14 November 2000
Syngenta makes dismal debut

By FWi staff

SHARES in Syngenta, the agrochemical company formed from Novartis and AstraZeneca, have dropped beneath their issue price in the first day of trading.

In Switzerland they dropped from the issue price of SF85 (33.65) to close at SF79.50, reports The Daily Telegraph.

In London, separate strands from Novartis and AstraZeneca closed at 31.375 and 31.10 respectively.

The newspaper says it was priced at the bottom of the range, underlining reluctance to invest in a sector hit by controversy over genetically modified food.

The Tempus column in The Times says Syngentas pesticides and fertilisers are a part of a “messy” industry without “an immediate appeal”.

But it adds that Syngenta occupies a seasonal industry at the bottom of its cycle and prospects should improve, offering short-term profit growth.

Additional positives are population growth, diminishing availability of farmland and efforts by farmers to maximise yields, it claims.

Michael Pragnell, new chief executive of Syngenta, said the company expects to buy back 10% of its shares in the next 10 days.

This will be funded by its parent companies.