After three lost glyphosate-cancer trials, Bayer investors fear litigation ‘avalanche’ will further harm company’s reputation

, | | April 15, 2020
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Two influential shareholder advisory groups are split on whether investors should support Bayer AG’s management at its upcoming annual meeting, a year after a damaging no-confidence vote.

Glass Lewis & Co. still sees risks brought about by Bayer’s takeover of agriculture giant Monsanto, advising shareholders to abstain rather than vote to endorse Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann’s actions in 2019. While Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. recommended backing Baumann and his team, it expressed concern that litigation related to the Roundup weedkiller could further hurt the company’s value and reputation.

Concerns linger over Baumann’s strategic choices after he helped orchestrate the $63 billion deal that brought Bayer an avalanche of U.S. lawsuits from people claiming Roundup causes cancer. Three lost trials and at least 48,000 more suits have spurred investor flight, wiping tens of billions of dollars off Bayer’s valuation.

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Bayer acknowledged in February that the losses from Roundup could force it to sell assets, issue new equity or borrow money at unfavorable terms. Bayer insists the herbicide is safe and has appealed the losing verdicts.

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