USDA to re­view Syn­genta deal: re­port

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The US Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment re­port­edly will join the panel that is re­view­ing Chi­nese Na­tional Chem­i­cal Corp’s $43 bil­lion pro­posed takeover of Swiss seed and pes­ti­cide maker Syn­genta AG, which would be the big­gest ac­qui­si­tion by a Chi­nese firm.

ChemChina on Tues­day ex­tended the dead­line for the deal to July 18, with po­ten­tial fur­ther ex­ten­sions to be de­ter­mined, CNAC Saturn, an arm of ChemChina, said in a state­ment, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg News.

The pre­vi­ous dead­line was May 23. ChemChina of­fered in Fe­bru­ary to buy Syn­genta for $465 a share in cash plus a spe­cial div­i­dend of five Swiss francs a share.

The trans­ac­tion needs ap­proval from an­titrust au­thor­i­ties in Europe and else­where, and the Com­mit­tee on For­eign In­vest­ment in the United States, or CFIUS, be­cause Sy­genta has fa­cil­i­ties in the US. Reuters, cit­ing peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter, re­ported on Mon­day that the Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment has agreed to re­view the deal. The depart­ment did not com­ment on the re­port.

Ted Mo­ran, a se­nior fel­low at the Wash­ing­ton-based, Peter­son In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nom­ics, said the ac­qui­si­tion “does not threaten to leak sen­si­tive tech­nol­ogy, or to al­low mean­ing­ful ma­nip­u­la­tion of sup­ply of pes­ti­cides, in­sec­ti­cides, or seeds, which can be ex­pected to be the tra­di­tional CFIUS con­cerns.’’

“CFIUS reg­u­la­tions do in­clude any def­i­ni­tion of food se­cu­rity, so the bur­den will be on [USDA Sec­re­tary Tom] Vil­sack to demon­strate how this might pose a na­tional se­cu­rity threat, if that is his be­lief,” he wrote in an e-mail to China Daily.

Michael Wes­sel is a com­mis­sioner on the US-China Eco­nomic and Se­cu­rity Re­view Com­mis­sion, which sub­mits to Congress an an­nual re­port on the na­tional se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions of the bi­lat­eral trade and eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China. He said the USDA has a “clear and ap­pro­pri­ate role’’ in the re­view of the Sy­genta deal.

“Food se­cu­rity is clearly a na­tional se­cu­rity is­sue and that in­volves not only seed stock, but agri­chem­i­cals and the range of prod­ucts in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of food,’’ he said.

“USDA’s ad­di­tion to the CFIUS re­view process will pro­vide greater con­fi­dence that the broad range of se­cu­rity is­sues fac­ing our coun­try are prop­erly eval­u­ated.”

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