By JIM RUTLEDGE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Swiss seed and pesticide company Syngenta AG, which rejected a takeover by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. last summer, is preparing for a U.S national security review after it announced its $43 billion deal to merge with state-owned China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina.
If regulators approve the merger, it would be the largest Chinese buyout of a foreign corporation in the world.
Syngenta COO Davor Pisk saidd in media accounts that the company will make a voluntary filing with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investments (CFIUS), the country’s top security watchdog overseeing foreign investments to ensure such deals pose no security risk to the country’s home land.
“As it best practice in foreign acquisitions involving U.S. businesses, the parties will make a voluntary filing with CFIUS, even though no obvious national security concerns were identified during due diligence,” Pisk said following media inquiries that reported possible security concerns.
CFIUS, which includes representatives from 16 U.S. agencies, is expected to determine if the Chinese ownership of Syngenta’s sensitive chemical facilities would post a national security risk. Syngenta operates a major crop protection manufacturing facility in St. Gabriel, Baton Rouge, La., and a second operation in Houston, Texas, both registered with the Department of Homeland Security.
There has been no response to email inquiries sent to CFIUS by Farm World.
U.S. House Agricultural Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) has also announced his committee will monitor the deal.
In an unrelated matter, a China-born U.S. citizen, Mo Hailong, admitted in federal court on Jan. 16, to be the ringleader of a group of Chinese spies who stole specifically modified and proprietary corn seeds in a years-long espionage conspiracy to steal trade secrets from argro-giants DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.
Six of Mo’s alleged co-conspirators escaped to China before the FBI could arrest them.
As part of a plea agreement, Mo will be sentenced to five years in prison.