ChemChina, Syngenta to move quickly on U.S. national security review

Thu Feb 4, 2016 11:30am EST
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By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - State-owned China National Chemical Corp [CNNCC.UL], which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations for what could be a lengthy U.S. national security review, as the House Agriculture Committee chairman said he would monitor the deal.

Representative Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican who chairs the Agriculture Committee, is aware of the deal and "will be closely monitoring this as it develops," a committee spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

The $43 billion deal, which was announced on Wednesday as a way for China to better feed its 1.4 billion people, would face scrutiny from a U.S. government panel that reviews foreign acquisitions to establish whether they will harm national security.

Last month, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, stunned markets by blocking the $3.3 billion sale of Dutch company Philips' lighting unit to a consortium of Asian buyers.

Syngenta, which generates nearly a quarter of its revenue from North America, is the biggest seller of pesticides in North America and also a key player in seeds. Its U.S. headquarters are in North Carolina. It has other facilities in the state, as well a presence in California, Delaware, Iowa and Minnesota, among others.

Davor Pisk, Syngenta's chief operating officer, said the company performs no classified work for the U.S. government and none of its U.S. facilities appear to be near sensitive U.S. government facilities.

Still, the company plans to file promptly to CFIUS, which comprises representatives from 16 U.S. agencies including Treasury, Homeland Security and Defense.

"As is best practice in foreign acquisitions involving U.S. businesses, the parties will make a voluntary filing with CFIUS, even though no obvious national security concerns were identified during due diligence," Pisk said in an emailed statement.   Continued...

The logo of Swiss agrochemicals maker Syngenta adorns it's plant in Muenchwilen, Switzerland February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann