Bayer CEO wins term extension, makes progress on Roundup settlement

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer’s (BAYGn.DE) Chief Executive Werner Baumann won an extension of his contract until 2024, in a show of support from the drugmaker’s new chairman just months after agreeing an $11 billion settlement of U.S. lawsuits over its Roundup weedkiller.

In a statement on Thursday, the group also said it would only be a matter of weeks to finalise the fragile settlement of claims that Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides cause cancer, which Bayer inherited as part of a $63 billion takeover of Monsanto.

A judge in July raised concern about an agreement with plaintiffs’ lawyers on how to handle claims that may be brought in the future, throwing the overall settlement deal into doubt.

Baumann, just weeks after taking the top job in 2016, unveiled plans to purchase Monsanto.

He had the full backing of then-Chairman Werner Wenning, who retired in April this year and was succeeded by Norbert Winkeljohann, a former head of six European countries at auditing and consulting firm PwC.

Baumann, 57, hinted the new term would be his last, saying he could have been given up to four years but instead opted for a shorter contract to “accommodate my personal plans”.

Winkeljohann said he expects “the glyphosate litigation will be handled in a way that is satisfactory for the company, makes economic sense and is structured in a way that enables potential future cases to be efficiently resolved.”

Bayer in June settled most of the existing lawsuits and also struck an agreement on future cases, proposing a scientific panel to rule on any future claimants that agree to submit to the out-of court procedure.

But after a rebuke on that partial deal from a judge, Bayer conceded there were “bumps” to overcome.

The arrangement on future cases is unprecedented because glyphosate will remain on the market without a cancer warning, for which the company has the backing of the U.S. pesticides regulator.


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