Bayer Chairman Resigns Amid Mounting Glyphosate Legal Battle

Bayer has confirmed that its Chairman Werner Wenning was stepping down because “the drugs and crop protection company was making good progress in settlement talks” according to Reuters.

In what the Wall Street Journal called “one of the worst  deals” and “most troubled acquisitions in recent times,” Bayer acquired Monsanto for $63B in 2018.

Tone deaf Bayer and Wenning raced headlong into foolishly attaching Bayer’s name, finances and legal liability onto Monsanto’s public legacy of glyphosate harms. Basic research should have alerted Bayer and Wenning to the potential headache inheriting the poorly tested, highly controversial flagship herbicide Roundup product from one of the world’s most hated companies had the potential to cause.

A year later, and after a tidal wave of damning discovery documents, consecutive court losses and increasing glyphosate litigation, Bayer’s total market cap had sunk to around what it had originally paid for the Monsanto acquisition.

In a desperate attempt to free up capital and overhead, Bayer was forced to tighten its financial belt. Fiercepharma.com writes,

Facing investor pressure, [Bayer CEO Werner] Baumann’s management team last year unveiled a major restructuring designed to save €2.6 billion in annual costs. And since then, the company has jettisoned sun care line Coppertone and foot care brand Dr. Scholl’s, and it just inked a deal to sell its animal health business to Elanco for $7.6 billion.

The blowback hit Bayer’s CEO during last annual meeting where 55.5% of angry shareholders cast a rare no-confidence vote in Bayer’s management.

As for the supervisory board led by now-former chairman Wenning, who also backed the Monsanto deal, about a third of investors voted disapproval.

Bayer has been busy recently postponing ongoing glyphosate litigation while scrambling to reach a universal settlement which still appears to be out of reach.

U.S. Right To Know’s “Monsanto Trial Tracker” has continually provided the most up-to-date information reporting,

“cases with trial dates are pending in the St. Louis, Missouri area and in Kansas City,  Missouri, including one case with more than 80 plaintiffs scheduled for trial March 30 in St. Louis City Court.”

An upcoming trial has been granted preference status May 5 in Marin County Superior Court in California due to the critical health condition of the plaintiff Victor Berliant.

In October 2019, Bayer confirmed that the U.S. legal cases it faced over Roundup harms had more than doubled over the past three months to 42,700. Cases have now been estimated to be approaching 100,000 by some sources though official confirmation from Bayer has been absent.

Another black eye for Bayer, compliments of an acquired Monsanto product, was the recent and first U.S. court loss surrounding its herbicide dicamba.

The plaintiff in the case alleged the companies [Monsanto and BASF] sold a defective product and they conspired to launch new dicamba-resistant soybean seeds ahead of EPA approval of new dicamba formulations designed to minimize drift. The court ruled that the dicamba drift was a primary factor in the damages to peach trees resulting in a $265M court ruling.