ChemChina Takeover Set for Approval
The biggest-ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese company could soon be completed, having passed EU antitrust rules.
Editor’s Remarks: The European Commission has reportedly overcome competition concerns over a $43bn bid for Syngenta, which is now set for launch by ChemChina. The state-owned Chinese giant has significant business in agrochemicals, making Swiss group Syngenta’s pesticides and patent-protected seeds a valuable take-home for the largest agricultural market in the world. EU regulators were concerned about potential competition issues and price hikes, but the conditions it has set for Chemchina are minor enough that the deal is likely to get under way.
What to watch: Volkswagen, Robert Bosch, Audi, Porsche, Toyota
Reckitt Benckiser Lines Up Acquisition
The British consumer goods giant is nearing a $16.7bn deal to buy Mead Johnson Nutrition.
Editor’s Remarks: Its American target is the second-biggest force in the baby formula market with its flagship product Enfamil and has operations from China to South America, marking Reckitt Benckiser’s intention to boost its global presence. Shareholders in Reckitt, known for brands like Durex and Nurofen, will weigh the deal’s advantages in edging the group towards rumoured targets like GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer portfolio against the company’s struggling core business and an ongoing product boycott in South Korea.
What to watch: Reckitt Benckiser, Mead Johnson, Nestlé, Unilever, Henkel
Key Team Trump Members Confirmed
Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as secretary of state, whilst Scott Pruitt looks set to be Environmental Protection Agency head.
Editor’s Remarks: Former ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson was always going to be a controversial pick as President Trump’s foreign affairs chief, given his cosy history with the Putin clan – as reflected in the Senate confirmation vote, which was the narrowest in living memory. Pruitt, meanwhile, was an inflammatory pick from the Democrats’ point of view given his stance on climate change and alleged conflicts of interest, who tried to boycott the nomination. It has been pushed through with a temporary suspension of some committee rules, making Pruitt’s appointment almost a given in the Republican-held Senate.
What to watch: Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, John Barrasso
Brazil to Lift Property Restrictions
South America’s largest country could lift a ban on foreign ownership of agricultural land heading into its eighth year.
Editor’s Remarks: Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva introduced the limits on major purchases of farmland from foreign investors in 2010, which will be overturned by July if the bill proposed by Brazil’s Agriculture Minister passes. This seems likely given that the struggle of its enormous agricultural sector is seen as a key obstacle to economic growth – now more needed than ever as Brazil slumps in its worst recession on record – though it is set to include significant restrictions designed to curb what the Government sees as problematic land speculation.
What to watch: Blairo Maggi, Michel Temer, Aécio Neves
NAFTA’s 90-day Death Spiral
The North American Free Trade Agreement is all but confirmed for either dramatic change or replacement within the next three months.
Editor’s Remarks: Known to favour an end to the US-Canada-Mexico free trade deal in its current form, President Trump told a group of Congresspeople to “speed [the process] up if possible”, nominating his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to lead negotiations. A significant redraft looks more likely than a fatal bullet given the Republican Senate contingent’s favourable stance towards the agreement. There may yet be more friction, though, given the awkward timing of the 90-day US legal limit on reviewing trade deals and Mexico’s mandatory 90-day period of industry consultation before it can enter negotiations.
What to watch: Donald Trump, Wilbur Ross, Orrin Hatch, Enrique Peña Nieto, Justin Trudeau