ChemChina in Talks With State Funds on Syngenta’s Pre-IPO

China National Chemical Corp. has held talks with potential investors including China Investment Corp. for a stake sale in Syngenta Group Co. before an initial public offering of the Swiss agrochemicals company, according to people familiar with the matter.

China National Chemical, or ChemChina, has also approached Silk Road Fund Co. among Chinese state-backed funds for investments into Syngenta, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

ChemChina was looking to raise as much as $10 billion in Syngenta’s pre-IPO round, Reuters reported in December, citing unidentified sources. ChemChina may aim for less than that amount as some potential investors have balked at the terms of the round, which imply a valuation for the company that is too high, the people said. The Covid-19 pandemic also had an impact on the fundraising efforts, they said.

ChemChina targets to complete Syngenta’s pre-IPO financing before the end of this year, followed by a listing on Shanghai’s Star board for high-technology companies as soon as next year, the people said. The Star board, which celebrates its first anniversary later this month, has recently attracted national champions including Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. for second listings.

A ChemChina spokeswoman said she is unaware of the issue in a response to Bloomberg News query, adding Syngenta would seek a listing at an appropriate time in accordance with conditions of the market and its business.

A representative for Syngenta said the company is focused on its target of being ready for an IPO by mid-2022, declining to comment further. A representative for Silk Road Fund said they have no information to disclose, while a representative for CIC didn’t respond to requests for comment.

ChemChina acquired Syngenta for $43 billion in 2017, clinching China’s biggest foreign takeover to date amid the country’s desire to use Syngenta’s top-tier chemicals and seeds technologies to improve domestic agricultural output.

A pre-IPO financing would follow Syngenta Group’s reorganization last month which saw it incorporate other ChemChina agricultural units including Adama Ltd. and the agricultural business of Chinese conglomerate Sinochem Corp. The new Syngenta, headquartered in Switzerland, has 48,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

Syngenta is still on track for an initial public offering by mid-2022, its Chief Executive Officer Erik Fyrwald said in an interview in June. The group will continue to drive down the use of pesticides, he said, as consumers and governments become more environmentally conscious.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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