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ChemChina reaching out for Syngenta

Media reports claim China National Chemical Corp is only hours away from initiating a huge deal to buy Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta. If successful, it would mark the largest ever acquisition by a Chinese company.

China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) was closing in on a $43-billion (39-billion-euro) deal to take over Swiss pesticide producer Syngenta, Bloomberg and Reuters reported Tuesday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the reports suggested that the deal could be announced as early as February 3, when the Swiss company was due to publish fresh quarterly results.

Experts said the transaction would be the biggest acquisition by a Chinese firm yet, to come only about half a year after US agricultural giant Monsanto failed to buy Syngenta for $47 billion.

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Syngenta was founded in the year 2000, following the merger of the agricultural segments of pharmaceutical firms Novartis and AstraZeneca.

In recent months, Syngenta'a management has undergone a change of mind, warming up to the prospect of a takeover under increased shareholder pressure and saying good-bye to what pundits have called a go-it-alone mentality.

For ChemChina, the merger would mean the continuation of an

extensive shopping spree in Europe.

It recently announced it would buy Germany's KraussMaffei Group, a maker of machinery for producing plastics and rubber.

In January of this year, ChemChina reported it had bought a 12-percent stake in Swiss energy and commodities trader Mercuria, also in a bid to expand its portfolio.

hg/sri (Reuters, AFP)

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