Syngenta faces lawsuits amid industry consolidation

For months, Swiss seed maker Syngenta AG has been publicly courted by the likes of Monsanto Co. and ChemChina, part of a historic consolidation wave sweeping the agri-chemicals business.

But lurking behind possible deals are lawsuits against Syngenta in which U.S. farmers and grain handlers are claiming losses of up to $6 billion. The suits in federal and state courts accuse Syngenta, the world’s third-largest seed company, of putting growers at risk by selling a genetically modified corn seed, engineered to fend off insects, without first obtaining Chinese import approval.

One federal lawsuit in Kansas City, Kansas is seeking to represent more than 350,000 corn farmers in the U.S. Plaintiffs in the case cleared an initial legal hurdle in September when a federal judge in Kansas City rejected Syngenta’s motion to dismiss the suit, stating that Syngenta’s later approval of the seed didn’t immunize it from “liability in wrongful conduct.”

The lawsuits come amid massive restructuring in the industry, putting pressure on Syngenta to do a deal. ChemChina is currently in takeover talks with Syngenta, according to people familiar with the situation. St. Louis-based Monsanto continues to weigh an offer after withdrawing a $47 billion bid in August, Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant told analysts Jan. 6.

Read more: Bloomberg


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