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Syngenta share buy-back plan announced

Novartis and the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals company, Astrazeneca, are planning to buy back around 10 per cent of the shares in the agribusiness, Syngenta, when it is floated later this year.

Syngenta is being created through the merger of the two companies’ agribusiness divisions. The buy-back programme, announced on Monday, is aimed at smoothing Syngenta’s launch.

“During the first 10 days following the listing we are putting ourselves in the position to buy back up to 10 per cent of its shares. This will be financed by the parents,” said chief executive, Michael Pragnell.

He said Syngenta, which will be the world’s largest crop protection company and third-largest seeds company, aimed to reduce its costs by SFr935million ($525 million) by the end of 2003.

Syngenta has annual sales of around SFr12.5 billion.

The European Union has cleared the way for the merger but it still needs approval by the US Federal Trade Commission.

Company officials, however, say they do not expect the FTC to impose tougher conditions than Brussels. The EU ordered divestment of businesses with annual sales of around SFr605 million.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR