Business Briefs – February 3, 2016

ChemChina Offers $43 Billion for Swiss Pesticide Giant Syngenta

HONG KONG (AP) – A Chinese state-owned chemical maker offered to buy Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta for $43 billion in what would be the biggest-ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese company.

Syngenta AG said Wednesday its board is recommending shareholders accept the offer from China National Chemical Corp., also known as ChemChina. Basel-based Syngenta said in a statement that ChemChina’s cash offer is worth the equivalent of 480 francs ($482) a share, including a special 5 franc dividend for shareholders if the deal goes through.

The deal is part of a global acquisition spree by Chinese companies, which are diversifying abroad to counter a slowdown at home while also seeking foreign expertise and technology. Last month Chinese home appliance maker Haier Group bought General Electric’s home appliance business while conglomerate Wanda Group acquired Hollywood movie studio Legendary Entertainment.

Survey: U.S. Employers Added A Solid 205k Jobs in January

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. businesses added a solid 205,000 jobs last month, lifted by robust gains in services and construction and extending a streak of steady hiring, according to a private survey.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that financial services, retailers and professional services firms also hired at a steady pace. The figures suggest that companies focused on the domestic economy remain healthy, despite gyrations in the financial markets and slowing global growth.

Manufacturers have suffered from the strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods more expensive overseas, and did not add any jobs last month.

Survey: Growth at U.S. Services Companies Slowed in January

WASHINGTON (AP) – A private survey says U.S. services companies grew in January at the slowest rate in nearly two years, as global economic challenges are showing some signs of spreading to consumers.

The Institute for Supply Management said that its services index fell to 53.5 last month from 55.8 in December. The January figure was the lowest since February 2014, when it was 52.6. Still, any reading above 50 signals that services firms are expanding.

Yum’s Sales Mixed in China, Climb in U.S.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Yum Brands on Wednesday reported mixed quarterly results for its troubled China unit, which the company is spinning off.

The Louisville, Kentucky company said sales rose 6 percent at established KFC restaurants in China, while its Pizza Hut sales fell 8 percent. Jonathan Blum, Yum’s chief public affairs officer, attributed the drop at the pizza chain to the country’s economic slowdown.

Yum has been trying to fix its business in China ever since sales there were slammed by food scares. Executives have also conceded they made marketing missteps. In October, Yum announced plans to spin off the business into a separate, publicly traded company.