Syngenta CEO says prepared to discuss deals with whole industry

ZURICH, Dec 18 (Reuters) – Agrochemicals company Syngenta AG is ready to discuss deals with anyone in the industry, including the world’s largest seed company Monsanto Co, its interim chief executive John Ramsay was quoted saying in an interview on Friday.

The seeds and crop industry is undergoing a major shake-up, with DuPont and Dow Chemical Co having announced an all-stock merger valued at US$130 billion last week.

“We are prepared to discuss options with the whole industry, including Monsanto, but our focus has got to be on the ability to actually believe in the value creation and have the confidence we can pull it off,” Ramsay said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires.

Monsanto, which withdrew a proposal to take over Syngenta in August, said last month its top executives were discussing whether they should acquire or merge with major rivals in the seed and agrochemical industries.

Ramsay said Monsanto had not revived its takeover effort.

He wouldn’t comment on the status of talks with China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina), but said any deal would face lower regulatory hurdles than a deal with a Western rival.

Reports last week said ChemChina was weighing a possible new bid for Syngenta following discussions between the two groups.

Syngenta is also revisiting its decision to sell its vegetable seed unit to check the implications for the company’s broader seed research functions, as part of a review of Syngenta’s seed businesses, Ramsay said in the interview.

Ramsay, who took over as temporary CEO after Michael Mack retired in October, said he had put himself forward as a permanent replacement but it could be several months before the board makes its decision.

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