Agrichemicals group Syngenta names company insider as CEO

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss agrichemicals and seeds group Syngenta on Friday named a company insider as its new chief executive to replace Erik Fyrwald, who is retiring after nearly eight years in charge.

Effective from Jan. 1, Jeff Rowe, president of Syngenta’s crop protection business, will replace 64-year-old Fyrwald, who has led the Chinese-owned company since 2016.

He will stay on the board of directors as an adviser to Chairman Li Fanrong at the company, which is pursuing an IPO.

ChemChina bought Syngenta in 2017 for $43 billion and folded it into Sinochem Holdings Corp in 2021.

Later on Friday, Syngenta said that Chief Financial Officer Chen Lichtenstein would also be stepping down. The executive will be replaced by Hengde Qin, who is currently Chief Human Resources Officer at Syngenta.

A rival to U.S. company Corteva and German firms BASF and Bayer, the company increased its annual sales to $33.4 billion in 2022 from $12.8 billion in 2016.

“Erik has provided outstanding leadership for Syngenta Group, steering it with steady hands through global pandemic, conflicts and challenging geopolitics while substantially transforming and growing the company,” Li said in a statement.

Rowe, who comes from a family of U.S. corn and soybean farmers, joined Syngenta in September 2016 as head of the company’s seeds business.

Syngenta’s Chinese parent is pursuing a flotation that is expected to give the company an enterprise value of about $60 billion.

Its application passed a review by the listing committee of the Shanghai Stock Exchange in June, but needs approval from China’s securities regulator.

A company spokesman said on Friday it expected the process to be completed when financial market conditions improve.

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Miranda Murray, Barbara Lewis and Tomasz Janowski)