Sino-Swiss Business News
China National Chemical Corp. has started gearing up for a listing of Syngenta AG, the Swiss pesticide producer it acquired for USD 43 billion, in what could become the chemical industry’s biggest-ever initial public offering, people with knowledge of the matter said. Top executives have begun internal work to prepare for a listing as soon as mid-2020, the people said. Syngenta is speaking with investment banks seeking a role on the deal, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The company will likely seek a listing in Europe, which it prefers to other venues such as Hong Kong or New York, the people said. ChemChina completed its purchase of Syngenta in 2017, a deal that ranks as the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Chinese company. The deal turned state-owned ChemChina into a global player in agrochemicals while also racking up a massive debt load. The Chinese company has said it plans to relist Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta within four to five years.
Switzerland’s Federal Council, during its meeting on August 14th, confirmed that Switzerland will exchange financial account information with 33 more reviewed partner countries for the first time in September. The list comprises Andorra, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Island, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Faroe Islands, Greenland, India, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat, New Zealand, Russia, Saint-Kitts and Nevis, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sainte-Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, and Uruguay. The Federal Council decided to commence the automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI) based on the positive feedback by the economic affairs and taxation committees of both parliamentary chambers.
Interroll Group, a Swiss manufacturer of products for material handling logistics and automation, such as rollers and sorters, said it remains confident on the huge growth potential in China and will continue to increase investments, triggered by robust demand from the express delivery market in the country. Later this year, the technology center of Interroll at Suzhou, Jiangsu province, will introduce a new German microelectronic roller assembly line and some advanced processing equipment for electric roller pipes, the company said. Besides, the Swiss firm will also set up a new office in Beijing, in addition to its current one in Shanghai, to provide more direct services to its customers in North China and Northeast China, to cater to the growing demand.
The cash-strapped Baoshida Swissmetal company has been taken over by a group of Swiss investors six years after it was sold to a Chinese group. The newly-founded Swissmetal Industries, backed by two private investors, said it had acquired the firm, which employs about 160 people at two factories in the small towns of Dornach and Reconvilier. The near-bankrupt copper alloy manufacturer went into provisional receivership, but a plan for a debt-restructuring moratorium was delayed several times pending a legal case. The main creditor, the Chinese Development Bank, gave a EUR 15 million (CHF16.4 million) loan to Baoshida Swissmetal in 2016 and has accused the administrator of providing insufficient information about the financial situation of the manufacturer. In May, the Chinese Development Bank refused an offer of CHF 9 million by Swiss Team for the company. The Chinese chief executive of Baoshida Swissmetal was dismissed in 2018 and was given a suspended prison sentence by a Swiss court for unlawful business practices last year. On Tuesday, the new owners of Swissmetal announced plans to restructure the company in the near future and limit its production to one factory.
China moved up three places to 14th among the world’s most innovative countries this year, according to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization on July 24th. The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019 ranked 129 economies based on 80 indicators, including traditional measurements such as research and development investments, international patent and trademark applications, as well as newer indicators such as mobile phone app creation and hi-tech exports. China remained in first place in quality of innovation among middle-income economies for the seventh consecutive year, according to the report, and achieved the top spot in patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs by origin, as well as hi-tech and creative goods exports. The country also ranked second only to the US in 18 of the top 100 science and technology clusters. This year’s report named Switzerland as the world’s most innovative country, followed by Sweden, the US, the Netherlands and the UK.
Belimo increased its sales by 9.3% to CHF 355.2 million in the first half-year 2019. On a currency-adjusted basis, this corresponds to a growth of 9.9%. Operating income before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to CHF 67.1 million (2018: CHF 59.5 million) resulting in an EBIT margin of 18.9% (18.3%). Advantageous currency effects among the factors contributed to this margin increase. A net income of CHF 53.4 million (CHF 47.6 million) and earnings per share of CHF 86.85 (CHF 77.40) resulted. Belimo generated a free cash flow of CHF 26.0 million (CHF 49.6 million). The investment of CHF 10 million as a short-term fixed cash deposit as well as higher capital expenditure, among others for the purchase of the building for the new service and logistics center near Dresden, reduced the free cash flow in the reporting period. Net liquidity was CHF 113.6 million at the end of June and the equity ratio was 77.9%. Sales in the Asia Pacific market region grew by 9.0%, in currency-adjusted terms by 10.5%. China in particular, the largest market in the region, made an important contribution to sales growth thanks to the consistent implementation of the growth strategy. One positive highlight in the Chinese market is the good development of the OEM business. However, uncertainties arising in China from the US-China trade dispute have become increasingly noticeable among market participants. Furthermore, the remaining markets in the Asia Pacific region did not develop as expected.
A Chinese university signed an agreement with the team of the Blue Brain Project, an attempt by Swiss scientists to create synthetic brains, to conduct brain science research together. Southeast University in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, and the European team will jointly build a database of cranial nerves accessible to global brain scientists for research of brain neurons and related medicine development, according to the deal they inked. Sean Hill, member of the Blue Brain Project, said Southeast University, which is the first academic institute they have cooperated with in China, is well-equipped with the neuromorphic reconstruction technology they need. Researchers of both sides will try to realize large-scale reconstruction of brain neurons through technologies like machine vision and virtual reality in a bid to explore brain and brain-like intelligence, said Peng Hanchuan, a researcher with the university.
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis is expanding its research and development of innovative drugs in China, an executive of the company said. Novartis is expected to submit 50 new drug applications for regulatory approval in China between 2019 and 2023, John Tsai, head of global drug development and chief medical officer for Novartis, said during an interview with Xinhua. Benefitting from China’s pharmaceutical regulatory reform, which enables pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs much faster, Novartis has received 24 approvals for new drug applications in the country in the last two years, including nine new molecular entities, according to Tsai. One of the new drugs that will be available in the Chinese market is an orally taken asthma drug, which is described by Tsai as unique because most of the drugs for asthma are not taken orally. Tsai said the respiratory disease is one of the top five diseases in China. The company will report the results of a 5,000-patient study for the drug before the end of the year.
Swiss industrial conglomerate ABB Group will open a new innovation center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in the second half of this year to locally provide solutions for smart building development, said an executive. Oliver Iltisberger, managing director of the smart buildings business line of ABB’s electrification business, said as China is seeking new ways to promote energy efficiency and minimize carbon emissions to design healthier environments in its cities, ABB is now experiencing fast growth in the areas of intelligent building and related electrical businesses. Eager to improve its service ability, the group opened a new ABB customer experience center in Beijing on Monday to highlight the development of smart cities with infrastructure upgrades, carbon-free transportation and energy savings. After the group’s restructuring in 2018, ABB’s business today focuses on four areas – electrification, industrial automation, motion, and robotics and discrete automation, supported by its common digital platform named ABB Ability.
Nestlé Research and Development China has challenged students at Beijing’s university education platform, Tsinghua x-lab, to identify new solutions for product packaging. Faculty members and 30 students at Tsinghua x-lab will be given five months to come up with innovative packaging ideas and new business models across five areas: recyclable or reusable, e-commerce, gifting, consumer education and engagement. Part of the company’s Nestlé Needs Youth initiative, the teams will have access to Nestlé’s research and development expertise and infrastructure at its R&D centre in Beijing, including labs and prototyping facilities. The challenge will end with a final event where teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that will include executives from Nestlé, Tsinghua University professionals and industry experts. The top three most compelling ideas will be awarded prizes and the opportunity to develop their concept further in partnership with Nestlé.