Syngenta AG is a Swiss-based global company that produces agrochemicals and seeds. As a biotechnology company, it conducts genomic research. It was formed in 2000 by the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals.
As of 2014 Syngenta is the world’s largest crop chemical producer As of 2009 it ranked third in seeds and biotechnology sales. Sales in 2015 were approximately US$13.4 billion, over half of which were in emerging markets.
It is owned by ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned enterprise.
“We are really, really happy that ChemChina has purchased Syngenta because it gives us a very strong way of contributing more to the modernizing of agriculture in China,” Andrew Guthrie, Syngenta Regional Director China, told Xinhua in an interview.
“What Syngenta is able to do is to bring the world’s leading technology to China and to its growers. And because of the acquisition by ChemChina, we have the great support to do this.”
In June 2017, ChemChina, a state-owned enterprise with full name as China National Chemical Corporation, purchased Syngenta, a global Swiss agribusiness that markets seeds and agrochemicals, for 43 billion U.S. dollars, the largest transaction ever clinched by a Chinese company overseas.
The marriage between ChemChina and Syngenta is not accidental. Before the tie was knotted, ChemChina and Syngenta had forged a very strong working relationship.
They had worked closely on a potato project in Dingxi in China’s northwestern Gansu Province, in which they brought technology, products and advice to farmers there and increased the yields by more than 30 percent.
“The biggest challenge that we have is that China is such a big country with lots of different crops at 200,000,000 farming households. If we’re really going to make a difference, our biggest challenge is how do we reach 200,000,000 farming households,” Ruthrie said.
Being purchased by ChemChina, “we are in a completely new chapter now.”
ChemChina has strong relationships within China. “One of the most crucial things about making a difference in China is around the collaborations and the partnerships that we will form,” Guthrie added.
Since the acquisition by ChemChina, Syngenta has received a very strong support and interest from all of its key stakeholders across China, because everbody realizes the Syngenta assets are now part of China, Guthrie said.
To be connected with more Chinese institutes which have a lot of investments in agriculture R&D through ChemChina is also what Syngenta would love to do. “This leads to a really good win-win opportunity for both Chinese institutes in agriculture and some in Syngenta that we’re trying to accomplish”, said Jeff Rowe, president of Syngenta Global Seeds North America and China.
Now being a Chinese multi-national, Syngenta has moved some of its most experienced business leaders in the world to China, Rowe told Xinhua. “We are in the process of moving top talent that we have anywhere in the world to China.”
Syngenta invests over one billion dollars in research and development every year, and is now very much focused on solving the problems that growers have in China, as well as all around the world.
After the acquisition, “China is now a global player in the agriculture research and development,” and is now the third pillar of global R&D center after the United States and countries in Europe, Ruthrie said. “We want to continue to invest and expand China’s R&D center”.
In the meantime, Syngenta hopes to be a vehicle to help companies in China bring more Chinese technology to the rest of the world. “Projects and initiatives like the Belt and Road are very important and we hope we can make a contribution to those sorts of initiatives as well,” Ruthrie said.
“Syngenta’s acquisition is a very, very big step for ChemChina in the China market, but also globally, in all the big markets and agriculture markets in the world,” Rowe said.