Stuck in one of the worst crises in its 155-year history, Bayer AG, the German company that invented aspirin and owns a team playing in the country’s top soccer league, is worth less today than the $63 billion it paid for Monsanto Co.
Bayer’s market capitalization has shrunk over 40% since it closed the Monsanto deal a year ago to roughly €53 billion. Investors are increasingly abandoning the stock: They are worried that Bayer’s liabilities from Monsanto’s allegedly carcinogenic weedkiller Roundup are only going to rise, pushing shares into a downward spiral.
Bayer and some investors say more cases need to be tried and appeals heard before the direction of the legal fight becomes clearer. Other investors say only a win in court right now would help them regain confidence in the company.
With no way to compute the scale of any final liability—awards so far range from $78.5 million to more than $2 billion—investors have sent Bayer’s shares down 40% in the past year.
“Bayer is in a dangerous situation,” said Marc Tüngler, who heads DSW, Germany’s association of private shareholders. “It’s no longer in the driver’s seat.”
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