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Seed maker Syngenta sales growth eases but still quite robust

Swiss agrochemicals maker Syngenta's logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Basel

ZURICH (Reuters) -Swiss agrichemicals and seeds group Syngenta on Thursday logged slightly slower - albeit still robust - growth in sales and core earnings for the third quarter.

The Chinese-owned company, which plans to list within the next few months, said sales jumped 20% to $7.9 billion in the three months to the end of September, compared to a 24% increase during the second quarter.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 24% to $1 billion. In the second quarter earnings had increased by 39%.

The Basel-based company said it was still seeing strong demand, as farmers - buoyed by high prices for commodities - invested in crop protection products and new seeds.

Some farmers were also stocking up on products, while Syngenta's modern agricultural platform business in China - where it gives training and advice - had almost doubled in size.

Still, Syngenta noted it was seeing an "increasingly challenging macroeconomic environment" while the continued strengthening of the dollar also weighed.

"Sales growth was attributable to a significant increase in sales across all business units, driven by robust grain prices, attractive farm economics and inventory builds across the value chain.

"Necessary price increases were implemented to help mitigate higher costs," it added.

Syngenta, which competes with U.S. company Corteva and Germany's BASF and Bayer, was bought in 2017 for $43 billion by ChemChina, which was folded into Sinochem Holdings Corp last year.

The parent company plans to keep a majority stake after its $10 billion flotation, which is expected to value Syngenta at around $50 billion.

BASF on Wednesday said costs at its European sites must be cut to a "permanently" smaller size because of a triple burden of sluggish growth, high energy costs and over-regulation, with the German industrial giant's boss throwing his weight behind a planned expansion in China.

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields and Edwina Gibbs)