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Disgruntled shareholders loose volley at Syngenta board

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Disgruntled Syngenta shareholders launched an attack on the company's board of directors, as the agrichemical company continues to find itself the target of takeover bids.

An anonymous survey by a shareholder group critical of the board found that that 98% of respondents supported a change in board personal and the Swiss agrichemical business.

The Syngenta board is coming under pressure to deliver value to shareholders, after a takeover bid from US input giant Monsanto was rebuffed.

The alliance of critical shareholders said the response was a "call to action" for shareholders and the board.

Pressure from shareholders

The 112 respondents of the survery are calculated to represent 10% of the company's ownership, including 20% of the institutionally owned shares, and included 4 of the 10 largest shareholders, the alliance said.

The alliance, whose members hold around 1% of Syngenta shares, was formed in October after the company turned down a $47bn offer from Monsanto.

Syngenta's chief executive Mike Mack stepped in October, in the wake of the rejected Monsanto bid.

The news that the merger would not be going ahead put pressure on the board to increase value for shareholders.

'Lack of leadership'

Earlier this month the alliance of critical shareholders accused Syngta of showing "a lack of leadership," and called on the board to talk to "all interested suitors".

A representative of the alliance told that the survey had been sent out to shareholders identified through publically available information.

Sygenta said it had "met in good faith with representatives of the Alliance of critical Syngenta shareholders," prior to the survey being carried out.

The company said the survey is "not in keeping with the constructive tone of relationship which should exist between a company and its shareholders".

"Moreover, the survey has been conducted on the false assumption that the Chairman and the Board are not working to meet shareholder expectations, and risks undermining actions that are already underway," Syngenta added.

ChemChina meeting

Last week Syngenta is reported to have met with the chairman of the China National Chemical Corp.

ChemChina has already made an offer for Syngenta, which has been rebuffed, according to reports carried by Bloomberg.

And Syngenta is also said to be back in talks for a merger with Monsanto, four months after the most recent overture was turned down.

Monsanto's Chief Operating Officer last month confirmed that the company was mulling another bid for Syngenta.

Sector shakeup

The whole agricultural input sector is currently undergoing a shakeup.

Dow Chemical and DuPont last week announced a $130bn merger, that would result in the creation of the world's biggest agrichemicals and seeds company.

The new business, which would be made up of the agricultural segments of both businesses, and spun out into an independent company, would overtake Monsanto and Syngenta.

The news put additional pressure on agrichemical businesses to find new synergies and economies of scale, in a time of squeezed farmer margins.

Syngenta shares were up 0.9% at 374.50 swiss francs in late deals in Zurich.


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