China Approves Restructuring of Sinochem and ChemChina

China gave approval for a restructuring of Sinochem Group and ChemChina Group, two companies that have been long the target of merger speculation.

The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, which regulates the companies, announced the approval late Wednesday in a one-line statement. In a separate statement, Sinochem said the two firms will become wholly-owned subsidiaries of a new holding company, operated by SASAC.

The move “will further optimize resource allocation, strengthen innovation and stimulate business growth,” Sinochem said. It will also aid the development of the chemical industry in China, it said.

Ning Gaoning, the chairman of both companies, said in November 2019 that they were exploring a merger and working on finance and legal matters. The deal would create an oil-to-chemicals company with more than $100 billion in assets.

A deal to combine the two companies, and create a globally competitive powerhouse across a swathe of basic industries, has been in the works since at least 2016. China’s formal blessing on a restructuring is likely to hasten its completion, although the deal has run into complications before.

Dow Jones reported in December that the two companies were seeking ways to combine that would avoid U.S. scrutiny related to the ownership of Swiss seed company Syngenta AG, which ChemChina bought for $43 billion in 2016. Both ChemChina and Sinochem were added to a Pentagon blacklist of companies alleged to have links to the Chinese military earlier in 2020.

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