Sunday , April 18 2021

Shareholders refused to meet Bayer's board of directors

Leverkusen / Bon / St. Louis (APA / dpa) – Due to the acquisition of the controversial US Monsanto group, Bayer's management of the German agrochemical group Baer lost much confidence among its shareholders. Shareholders surprisingly rejected the dismissal on Friday, with 55.5 per cent of the vote voting against, and only 44.5 per cent voted in favor.

For Werner Bauman's CEO, this was a huge slap in the face – most often getting Leverkusen's board at its annual general meeting, approving about 97 percent. However, the vote has no direct consequences for the Board, the release is considered a more formal step.

At the 13-hour event in the Bonn conference center, numerous major shareholders went to court with the executive board. Mark Tumler of the German Securities and Exchange Association (DSW) said: "Never before has the Dax Group had a reputation for scratching the image caused by the complaint over the alleged risk of gum tracheal cancer in the United States and the rapid drop in Bayer's stock market shares and losing value so quickly – it's a shame. "

The critic also came from analyst Jan Verning of the investment fund Union Investment: "The Bayer management apparently completely underestimated the legal risks of the Monsanto agreement." Since 2018, Bayer has suffered two defeats in a US court, the group is compensated for being convicted of cancer patients. On the other hand, Bayer appeals. Overall, Leverkusen, which took over competitors and seed producer Monsanto in 2018, now has to bring 13,400 claims for glyphosate damage – and the number is likely to increase.

Bayer CEO Werner Bauman confirmed that glyphosate was a "safe product when used properly". Regarding cancer patients in the United States, the manager said: "Products based on glyphosate do not cause their serious illnesses."

Bauman's conviction, however, could not calm the deep concerns of the present shareholders. Monsanto's legal risks for the traditional German company founded in 1863 were "enormous and priceless," complained Nicola Huber of the Deutsche Bank subsidiary DWS. "We shareholders are very concerned about the continuation of the 150-year-old and largely successful German industrial history." Ingo, the recollection of the Deka Holding Company, which is among the top ten shareholders of Bayer, spoke of "concerns" and said that in view of the price drop: "In just two years, the former pharmaceutical giant mutated into a dwarf." There was a danger of being taken or even broken.

Bowman responded calmly to the criticism and stuck to his line: he should not shine above the price falling, but Monsanto's acquisition was the right step in the long run. "We still think that the acquisition of Monsanto is valuable and strategically accurate."

The acquisition was thoroughly tested in advance, said the manager. But is it possible even to assess the legal risks in advance? Shareholders raised doubts – Monsanto was also quoted on the stock exchange, perhaps the Americans were not allowed to place all cards at the table in the negotiating negotiations. Baumann also let this shame roll – the due diligence of the company was "commonplace."

The criticism of shareholder meetings is – also in Bayer – quite common. On the other hand, their sharpness and the publication of several major shareholders who voted against the release were unusual on Friday. In 2002, due to the Lipopai scandal for the then Board, only 90 percent were – previously Bayer had a cholesterol-lowering, which was associated with several deaths withdrawn from the market. This value was considered extremely bad – and was clearly torn into the vote late on Friday.

The vote is likely to weaken the position of CEO Baumann. Chairman of the meeting and chairman of the supervisory board Werner Vening immediately announced after the vote that the supervisory board will withdraw and advise him. The supervisory board also had to withdraw – it was released only with 66.4 percent, after 98 percent in the previous year.

At the annual meeting, Bowman, 56, in cross-shareholder questioning said the stock prices will recover: "We are doing everything in our power to return the value of our company back to where it belongs." He also pointed to good figures In fact, at the beginning of the year, Bayer had a good overall economic development and sales increased significantly. But the dark clouds due to Monsanto's legal risks have jeopardized the sustainability of shareholders.

While some 3,600 shareholders attended the WCCB in Bonn, up to 700 protesters in the morning made loud protests in front of the doors of the building – most of them young people from the "Travels for the Future" movement. Big agricultural corporations like Bayer are bad for the environment, and therefore for the future, activist Felix Paul said on the street. Ten hours later, the 20-year-old appeared at the convention center and condemned Baer's "greed for profit." After the speech, he shouted with some fellow activists in the hall: "We are here, we are loud because we are stealing the future." But this time, the choir of activists was quieter than the morning, when hundreds of them were called "Friday". Slogan exclaimed. Paul's question about how many liters of pesticides produced last year, however, led to new findings: they are announcing sales in the agricultural sector, but there are no quantities, Bauman responded by Friday's activists.

Glyphosate was authorized in the EU in 2017 after a long dispute for another five years. The Food Authority EFSA and the European Chemicals Agency ECHA previously concluded that the available scientific evidence is not sufficient to classify the active substance as a carcinogen.

~ ISIN DE000BAY0017 WEB ~ APA001 2019-04-27 / 00: 02

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