Bayer Chairman Werner Wenning, one of the architects of a $63 billion takeover deal that has left the German crop protection company fighting costly lawsuits, will step down in April, it said on [Feb. 26].
Bayer shares have plunged about a quarter in value since August 2018, when the company lost the first U.S. lawsuit claiming weedkiller Roundup – acquired via the takeover of Monsanto – causes cancer.
Wenning …. said he had originally intended to step down [in 2019] after reaching the board’s recommended age limit of 72, but was asked to stay on.
Bayer [in 2019] started negotiations with plaintiffs’ lawyers to settle more U.S. lawsuits involving Roundup. In October 2019, the number of plaintiffs more than doubled to 42,700 …. and analysts have predicted it may cost [the] company up to $12 billion to lay the claims to rest.
In August 2018, a California state court jury awarded almost $300 million in damages to a groundskeeper in the initial Roundup lawsuit, though that was later reduced to $78 million. In two subsequent cases other juries also found the company liable. Bayer is appealing all three verdicts.
Major shareholders have criticized Bayer for its handling of the issue and for underestimating the risks when it bought Monsanto ….