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Syngenta Pulled $9bn Shanghai IPO After ‘Beijing Pressure’

Chinese regulators and the State Council reportedly blocked the planned flotation because of concerns about sapping liquidity from its market

Syngenta Group China's sign at its Modern Agriculture Platform service centre in Handan, China. Photo: Reuters


Chinese authorities pressured Swiss agrichemicals and seeds group Syngenta to pull its long-delayed $9 billion Shanghai IPO over worries about its impact on the country’s fragile market, sources claim.

The Chinese state-owned pesticide giant last Friday withdrew its bid for the initial public offering (IPO) saying the decision was taken “after careful consideration of [the] industry environment and the company’s own development strategy”.

Syngenta filed to list on the main board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange last May seeking to raise $8.98 billion and passed a review by the bourse’s listing committee a month later. Its executives said as recently as last November that Syngenta planned to list in 2024.

The company, however, did not secure a green light from China’s securities regulator or top leaders at the State Council, a prerequisite for blockbuster IPOs to go ahead, said four people familiar with the matter.


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The planned flotation finally came unstuck after Syngenta, owned by Sinochem, in March received informal instructions from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) to pull its bid for the mega listing, said one of the people.

The reason for Syngenta’s IPO withdrawal and the way it was managed, which have not been reported previously, underscore how Beijing is prioritising boosting investor confidence in the secondary market over the launch of new equity offerings.

The government’s request for Syngenta to scrap its IPO came despite the company’s seeds being essential to food security and China’s self-reliance in grain production, which the country’s leaders, especially President Xi Jinping, have strongly promoted.

The withdrawal resulted from Chinese authorities’ concerns over the potential impact of a sizeable IPO on the frail stock market which had a wretched start to the year, said the four people with knowledge of the matter.

Large IPOs have often been cited by analysts as a reason for triggering the plunge of domestic stock markets, as large amounts of money are frozen when subscriptions are taken, sapping liquidity in the secondary market.

China’s stock market rout at the beginning of the year came after mainland shares lagged global stocks for three years and with deflation at levels not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

China’s securities watchdog has sharply tightened scrutiny of IPOs this year, leading to companies scrapping domestic listing plans in droves, with some turning to offshore markets such as Hong Kong and New York.

The stricter reviews came after the CSRC in August last year announced plans to slow the pace of IPOs and equity follow-on offerings in an attempt to bolster the secondary market in the world’s second-largest economy.


ChemChina Purchase

During January-March 2024, proceeds raised via mainland China IPOs plunged 82% from a year earlier to just $2.4 billion, the smallest quarterly fundraising since the last quarter of 2018, LSEG data showed.

The sudden chill in China’s IPO market, which was the world’s biggest in 2022 and 2023, comes after the securities watchdog, under new chairman Wu Qing, last month vowed to step up scrutiny of listing candidates and crack down on any lapses.

The listing of Syngenta, which was bought by ChemChina in 2017 for $43 billion and folded into Sinochem in 2021, would have been China’s largest and one of the world’s biggest flotations this year.

The offering has been postponed repeatedly by various issues since first being filed in 2021.

The company initially aimed to float on Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR Market which generally offers high valuations and filed the application in June 2021. Two years later, it shifted to the main board for listing.

Syngenta said in its statement last Friday that it would look to restart the listing process either in China or on a different exchange, when conditions are right, as well as explore alternative sources of funding.

Market analysts have previously cited Hong Kong, Zurich and London as potential alternatives for a Syngenta listing.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

China’s Move to Slow Down IPOs May Backfire on Frail Economy

Shanghai Pulls Plug On Syngenta IPO In Mass Listings Freeze

China Ups IPO Rules to Protect Investors With ‘Teeth And Horns’

China IPOs Plunge in First Half Amid Slowdown, Tighter Scrutiny

ChemChina’s $10bn Syngenta IPO set to be 2021’s biggest flotation



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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