USDA to review Syngenta deal: report
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.”