19 September 2000
Syngenta $1bn buyback plan

NOVARTIS and AstraZeneca have earmarked $1 billion to buy back 10% of Syngenta, the agrochemicals company they are forming, reports the Financial Times.

This 10-day buy back operation is intended to stabilise share price in early days of trading for the large stand-alone agrochemicals group.

According to documents sent to AstraZeneca shareholders, a value of $10bn – $89 per share – had been placed on the company.

Proforma figures showed that Syngenta increased earnings before interest tax and depreciation by 13% to $1.26bn.

It raised its margin from 24.7% in the first half of 2000 on a 3% increase in sales to $4.65bn.

Syngenta chief executive Michael Pragnell said agriculture was going through a slump and that there was little prospect of things being better in 2001.

But he believed Syngenta should produce strong earning by reducing costs $525m by 2004 and increasing margins.

A significant amount of Syngentas $785m research and development budget will be spent on genetically modified seeds.