ChemChina, Syngenta win U.S. antitrust approval for deal

By Diane Bartz
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The company logo of China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina, is seen at its headquarters in Beijing

The company logo of China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina, is seen at its headquarters in Beijing, China February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina, has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Switzerland's Syngenta AG on condition that it divest three products, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.

The $43 billion (£34.56 billion) deal, which was announced in February 2016, was prompted by China's desire to use Syngenta's portfolio of top-tier chemicals and patent-protected seeds to improve domestic agricultural output.

To win approval from U.S. antitrust enforcers, the companies agreed to divest ChemChina's generic production of the herbicide paraquat, the insecticide abamectin used for citrus and tree nuts and the fungicide chlorothalonil, used for peanut and potato crops.

Syngenta owns the branded versions of the three products while ChemChina's subsidiary ADAMA sells generic versions to U.S. farmers. ChemChina has agreed to sell the generic businesses to AMVAC, a California-based company.

"Syngenta will continue to provide a high quality, broad portfolio of products and solutions to U.S. farmers," Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart said in a statement.

Syngenta sells its products in more than 90 countries under such brand names as Acuron, Axial, Beacon and Callisto. It sells seeds such as cereals, corn, rice, soybeans and vegetables.

The deal with ChemChina has received approvals from 16 jurisdictions and is awaiting word from China, Europe, India and Mexico, Minehart said. European antitrust enforcers said they would reach a decision this month on whether they would allow the deal to go forward.The deal is one of several that is remaking the international market for agricultural chemicals, seeds and fertilizers. The trend toward market consolidation has triggered fears among farmers that the pipeline for new herbicides and pesticides might slow.

The other deals in the sector are a $130 billion proposed merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont and Bayer's plan to merge with Monsanto . On the fertilizer front, Potash Corp has announced plans to merge with Agrium Inc .

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Peter Cooney and Chris Reese)

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