In light of recent concerns about the amount of foreign-owned agricultural land in North Carolina, it is worth noting the risk extends beyond mere land: Syngenta Seeds, LLC, one of the world’s largest developers and producers of seeds for farmers and based in Greensboro, was bought in 2017 by ChemChina as part of a merger.

Syngenta is not the only business in Greensboro with ties to China. The site of a
future ICF Facility in Greensboro was “tied to a previously publicly traded Chinese company, Puxin Limited.”

Of course, North Carolina is not the only state where Syngenta is operating. In October 2023 the Office of Attorney General of Arkansas ordered “Syngenta to sell 160 acres (65 hectares) of farmland in the U.S. state within two years,” reported Reuters. The order complied with a state law passed by the Arkansas legislature in 2023, SB 383. Per this law, Syngenta has two years to sell this land. If it fails to do so within two years, “the attorney general shall commence an action in circuit court within the jurisdiction of agricultural land” and “the circuit court shall order that the agricultural land be sold through judicial foreclosure.”

“Because Syngenta is foreign owned—ultimately by the Chinese Communist Party—it was required to report its ownership of agricultural land to the Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. It failed to timely do so—filing the report well after the deadline,” according to a November press release from Arkansas Attorney General, Tim Griffin’s office. Syngenta was also required to pay a $280,000 civil penalty for failing to file the report. This is amount is approximately 25 percent of the land value, the maximum the fine allowed by law, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Syngenta owns the farmland in question through a subsidiary, Northrup King Seed Co.

“While we are owned by a Chinese company, let me make one thing clear: The suggestion that China is using Syngenta to purchase land or conduct operations in the U.S. for any purpose other than supporting the company’s commercial business in North America is simply false,” wrote Eric Boeck, regional manager of North America Seeds, (Northrup Seed Co.) Syngenta’s subsidiary, in an October op-ed responding to the order from Griffin. 

In May 2017  the “provisional interim results” for the offer by China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) to acquire Syngenta were announced after the “main offer period” ended, and approximately 80.7 percent were tendered, surpassing the minimum acceptance rate of 67 percent of shares. 

In February 2016, Syngenta announced that ChemChina “offered to acquire the company at US$465 per ordinary share plus a special dividend of CHF 5 to be paid conditional upon and prior to closing.”

complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on April 4, 2017, alleged that the merger would harm competition in several U.S. markets. “…increasing the likelihood that the merged entity will unilaterally exercise market power in the relevant markets and that customers in the United States would be forced to pay higher prices or accept reduced service for crop protection formulations based on the active ingredients paraquat, abamectin, and chlorothalonil.”

On March 16, 2021, Syngenta announced that “it has selected its current campus location on Swing Road in Greensboro, North Carolina, to redevelop its North American Crop Protection Headquarters.”

On March 9, 2022, Syngenta held a groundbreaking event for their new North American Crop Protection Headquarters at their current location in Greensboro, according to a press release. “Syngenta intends to construct a more than 100,000 square-foot office building to connect with its existing laboratory facility on the north side of the 70-acre campus. Plans also include a complete renovation of all laboratories,” stated the press release.

Syngenta’s North America Crop Protection Headquarters in Greensboro. Photo Courtesy of Syngenta.

Since 2021, Syngenta has been working on an IPO (initial public offering).

“The company is aiming to raise 65 billion Chinese yuan ($8.93 billion), which would have made it the biggest IPO globally this year, based on Dealogic data,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported in November.

A spokesperson for Syngenta told WSJ that the company expects an IPO by the end of 2024. However, they remain flexible and explore alternative options to expand their shareholder base.

“An IPO remains the company’s preferred option, but a private placement could be an alternative if capital markets continue to be soft, especially in China,” reported WSJ.

Syngenta’s 70 acre campus in Greensboro, now with 17 structures, was established in the 1960s. The construction on the new North American Crop Protection Headquarters will be completed in September 2024 and will host approximately 650 employees and 100 contractors, Kathy Eichlin, Head of Crop Protection and Corporate Communications for Syngenta North America Crop Protection, told the Carolina Journal.