China’s STAR Market Regains Some Sparkle With Syngenta IPO

A planned $10 billion listing by pesticide and seed giant Syngenta Group Co. will be a win for Shanghai’s STAR Market, boosting its credentials as a home for inventive, internationally minded companies just as China gets tougher on overseas stock sales.

The initial public offering would be the largest in STAR’s roughly two-year history. That could help the Nasdaq-style board regain some of the momentum it has lost since Ant Group Co.’s blockbuster IPO was abruptly halted late last year.

Syngenta is an unusual case, as a global business owned by a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Still, the listing would also mark some progress toward Beijing’s long-held goal of attracting multinational companies to its stock exchanges.

The STAR Market, also known as the Science and Technology Innovation Board, launched in 2019 with backing from President Xi Jinping. It was designed as a fundraising base for the country’s homegrown technology champions, and promised a faster, more market-based IPO regime than China’s other listing venues.

However, since the IPO by Ant, Jack Ma’s financial-technology giant, was suspended in November, the board has faced a series of challenges. Authorities have cracked down on problematic IPOs, leading dozens of deals to be withdrawn, while vetting time for other deals has gone up sharply.

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