Jul 15, 2020 01:46 AM

ChemChina in Talks With State Funds on Syngenta’s Pre-IPO

A logo for the Swiss agribusiness company Syngenta
A logo for the Swiss agribusiness company Syngenta

(Bloomberg) — China National Chemical Corp. held talks with potential investors including China Investment Corp. for a stake sale in Syngenta Group Co. before an initial public offering of the Swiss agrochemicals company, according to people familiar with the matter.

China National Chemical, or ChemChina, also approached Silk Road Fund Co. among Chinese state-backed funds for investments in Syngenta, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

ChemChina was looking to raise as much as $10 billion in Syngenta’s pre-IPO round, Reuters reported in December, citing unidentified sources. ChemChina may aim for less than that as some potential investors have balked at the terms of the round, which imply a company valuation that is too high, the people said. The Covid-19 pandemic also had an impact on fundraising, they said.

ChemChina aims to complete Syngenta’s pre-IPO financing before the end of this year, followed by a listing on Shanghai’s STAR Market for high-technology companies as soon as next year, the people said. The STAR board, which celebrates its first anniversary this month, recently attracted national champions including Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. for secondary listings.

In response to a Bloomberg News query, a ChemChina spokeswoman said she is unaware of the issue and Syngenta would seek a listing at an appropriate time in accordance with conditions of the market and its business.

A representative for Syngenta said the company is focused on its target of being ready for an IPO by mid-2022 and declined to comment further. Representatives for CIC and Silk Road Fund didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

ChemChina acquired Syngenta for $43 billion in 2017, clinching China’s biggest foreign takeover to date amid the country’s desire to use Syngenta’s top-tier chemicals and seeds technologies to improve domestic agricultural output.

A pre-IPO financing would follow Syngenta Group’s reorganization last month, in which it incorporated other ChemChina agricultural units including Adama Ltd. and the agricultural business of Chinese conglomerate Sinochem Corp. The new Syngenta, headquartered in Switzerland, has 48,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

Syngenta is still on track for an initial public offering by mid-2022, Chief Executive Officer Erik Fyrwald said in an interview in June. The group will continue to drive down the use of pesticides, he said, as consumers and governments become more environmentally conscious.

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