Syngenta AG Downsizes; Plans Cuts Affecting 1,800 Jobs

Syngenta Downsizes; Plans Cuts Affecting 1,800 Jobs

November 24, 2014

By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Editor

The world’s largest crop chemical producer, Syngenta Ag , said Monday that it will eliminate or relocate nearly 1,800 jobs as it attempts to streamline operations with a goal to save $1 billion by 2018, the Swiss company said in a statement.

The firm said 500 positions will be definitively cut, but did not specify where or when those cuts will take place. Syngenta has 28,000 employees in 90 countries around the world, with 3,400 on its payroll in Switzerland alone.

“We remain committed to Basel as our headquarters and value this country's position as a center for business and innovation, as evidenced by our significant ongoing investments here,” said Mike Mack, Syngenta's CEO, in a separate statement Monday. “We undertake to carry out the planned job reductions and relocations in a socially responsible way.”

Syngenta has been slammed by increased competition in its sector, including growing encroachment from agribusiness giants like Monsanto, a squeeze which has been reflected in its share price, which fell more than 9 percent this year. As such, the company is trying to implement programs in its research and development programs, including outsourcing, which it projects could save it as much as $50 million in 2015.

Any jobs relocated will likely be moved to locations with a lower cost of doing business, both for wages and taxes, a plan Syngenta hyped as potentially saving it $100 million in 2015.

Stateside, the company appears to be going forward with a planned expansion in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, saying Monday its Research Triangle Park site "will continue to be strategic research facilities of global importance.”

"For example, we are investing $94 million in the expansion of Syngenta biotechnology facilities in RTP," Paul Minehart, head of corporate communications for Syngenta's North American operations, told the Triangle Business Journal, although he could not confirm that the 150 new jobs at the site by 2018 would remain unchanged.

"Some of the positions have been filled and future employment decisions will be made throughout 2015,” he said.

The state of North Carolina bet heavily on Syngenta, approving up to $2.98 million in state incentives to lure the company to the area.

Analysts remained blasé about Syngenta’s plans Monday, with one, Markus Mayer of Helvea Baader Bank, telling Bloomberg, “The savings program is so far not yet fully mirrored by consensus numbers.”

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