Syngenta Investors Pressure Chairman Amid ChemChina Talks

  • Group says Syngenta must 'quickly find a path' to survive
  • Calls for dialog between Syngenta and all interested suitors

A group of Syngenta AG shareholders have increased pressure on the Swiss pesticide maker to talk to “all interested suitors” after a planned merger between rivals Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. and renewed interest from China National Chemical Corp.

Dow and DuPont on Friday announced plans to merge in the largest ever deal in the chemicals industry. Their combined seeds business and crop-protection portfolio could threaten Syngenta’s core markets, the Alliance of Critical Syngenta Shareholders said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

“With that combined company executing its own integrated strategy, Syngenta must quickly find a path that allows it to compete and survive,” the Alliance said.

The shareholder group, which had 130 members representing about 1 percent of Syngenta’s shareholder capital as of mid-November, was formed in October after the company rebuffed a $47 billion approach from Monsanto Co. The Basel, Switzerland-based company has shown poor corporate governance and a “lack of leadership,” the group has said. A spokeswoman for Syngenta could not be reached for immediate comment.

The most recent call for dialog with potential bidders for the company coincides with a period of heightened deal-making in the agrochemicals industry as leading suppliers jostle for positions. ChemChina Chairman Ren Jianxin met with Syngenta in Europe last week as it weighs an improved offer, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported earlier. Monsanto is considering whether to begin another attempt to buy Syngenta, Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann said last month.

The Alliance met with Syngenta Chairman Michel Demare Nov. 26, according to a letter published on its website.

Shares closed 2.2 percent higher to 373.40 Swiss francs in Zurich.

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