Touch the Soil News #379
Historically we have followed the Monsanto company whose operations have ignited domestic and global protest. Operating at a lower public profile are two other companies (Syngenta and ChemChina) whose business lines are similar to Monsanto’s – genetic modification of plants, agrochemicals and patenting seeds for private corporate ownership.
In an unsuccessful attempt last year (2015), Monsanto tried to acquire Syngenta – to create the world’s largest biotech and agrochemical company. Syngenta management spurred the deal, essentially saying Monsanto was not a suitable partner.
Earlier this year, ChemChina (China National Chemical Corporation) – a state-owned enterprise by the Chinese government – made a bid to acquire Syngenta. Syngenta agreed and the two companies are in the process of obtaining regulatory approval. So far, the regulatory approval processes have been moving along with no snags yet.
If and when the Syngenta/ChemChina deal comes together, Monsanto will be the junior kid on the block. Monsanto will be squaring off with the largest agrochemical giant in the history of humankind.
To get a better feel for the playing field, following is a brief synopsis of the players:
Monsanto: Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, the company had global sales in 2015 of $15 billion. Monsanto has approximately 21,000 employees operating over 400 facilities in 66 countries. Monsanto has been in the news lately as an international panel of scientists proclaimed that glyphosate – Monsanto’s flagship weed chemical – is a probable human carcinogen.
Syngenta: Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, the company had global sales in 2015 of $13 billion. Syngenta has approximately 28,000 employees working in over 90 countries. Syngenta is a conglomeration of mergers and acquisitions of companies whose origins go back over 200 years. Syngenta came to be in the year 2000 with the mega-merger of Novartis and Zeneca.
Behind the scenes, Syngenta stockholders are unhappy with the company’s earnings and many were upset when the Monsanto deal fell through. The stockholders want more and feel that Syngenta – as it sits – cannot deliver their expectations. Resultingly, when ChemChina made an offer, Syngenta is moving ahead as the stockholders believe they are going to “cash in” on the deal. ChemChina is offering to pay Syngenta stockholders $43 billion in cash.
ChemChina (China National Chemical Corporation): Headquartered in Beijing, China, is owned by the Chinese Government. It is a state-owned enterprise. The company had global sales in 2015 of $45 billion. ChemChina has 140,000 employees working in 150 different countries around the globe. In addition, ChemChina works with 26 research institutes and design academies around the globe. The company, before the merger, ranks 265th in the Global Fortune 500. ChemChina has a history of acquiring other companies. The purchase of Syngenta will be the largest ever foreign purchase by a Chinese firm – it will make history.
Ren Jianxin, is the CEO of ChemChina. He was the brainchild who created this state-owned company out of more than 100 troubled factories in China. The Chinese government retains ownership of ChemChina. Jianxin is a very politically powerful individual in China, having served in the posts of President of the Supreme People’s Court and Secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Committee.
The proposed ChemChina merger with Syngenta will create an agrochemical and biotech company that will be four (4) times the size of Monsanto. In part 2 of this series, historical opponents of Monsanto are already gearing up to challenge the creation of this mega GMO/Chemical giant.