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ChemChina and Sinochem will combine their agriculture assets

New company, to take the Syngenta name, will be a leader in agricultural inputs

by Hepeng Jia, special to C&EN
January 8, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 2

Possibly presaging an even larger merger, two Chinese state-owned chemical conglomerates—ChemChina and Sinochem—plan to merge their agricultural businesses to form the country’s largest agrochemical company.

An agricultural powerhouse

Syngenta Group will be:

• China’s largest fertilizer supplier

• China’s largest pyrethroids maker

• The world’s largest generic pesticide maker

• The world’s third-largest seed supplier

On Jan. 5, ChemChina announced that it has renamed its China Chemical (Shanghai) Agricultural Technology subsidiary as Syngenta Group. Into this new firm ChemChina will inject Syngenta AG, the Swiss firm that it acquired in 2017 for $43 billion; its majority ownership of the Israeli generic agchem maker Adama; and its other agricultural businesses, such as China National Seed Group.

Meanwhile, the new firm will also receive agricultural assets from Sinochem, including the fertilizer maker Sinofert and the agchem company Yongnong Chemical. It is unclear how much money is changing hands. Citing industry sources, Reuters reports that ChemChina has financing of up to $10 billion from state-backed investors to fund the reshuffling as preparation for a public stock offering of the ag business.

Syngenta AG is the world’s third-largest seed company, after Bayer and Corteva Agriscience, while Adama is the world’s largest generic pesticide producer. After the merger, the new Syngenta Group will cover fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, and agricultural development. Its annual sales will approach $27 billion.

Ning Gaoning, chairman of ChemChina, will chair Syngenta Group, while Erik Fyrwald, currently CEO of Syngenta AG, will be its CEO.

Ning, a leading entrepreneur pushing the overseas expansion of Chinese state-owned enterprises, is also the chairman of Sinochem. His roles atop both ChemChina and Sinochem have led to speculation that the two state-owned chemical giants will eventually merge.

It is unclear whether the formation of Syngenta Group will accelerate this process. What is clear is that the Chinese government is eager to form a supersized player to modernize its agriculture sector.

“Developing an aircraft carrier in China’s agrochemical sector will help Chinese agricultural enterprises to compete with global leaders while integrating fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, and other businesses to form an efficient agricultural industry chain,” comments Du Shuangjiang, an analyst with China Fertilizer Online.



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