FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer shareholder Deka has requested a replacement for chief executive Werner Baumann ahead of his scheduled departure, adding to mounting pressure on the German drugmaker.
“Bayer needs a new strategic positioning, which cannot be credibly achieved under the leadership of Werner Baumann,” Deka head of corporate governance Ingo Speich told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) newspaper. , according to remarks published on Saturday.
The mutual fund company is among Bayer’s 20 largest shareholders.
“President Norbert Winkeljohann has a window of opportunity to act before the annual general meeting at the end of April. He must seize this opportunity, otherwise the pressure on him will also increase,” added Ingo Speich.
According to him, the successor will have to come from outside the company.
“Generally speaking, we are always open to constructive dialogue with our stakeholders,” a Bayer spokesperson said, declining to comment specifically on the interview.
Despite recent improvements in the company’s agricultural sector and prospects for drug development, Bayer’s stock has suffered from litigation over the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and pollution from chemicals known as of PCBs.
These disputes were inherited from the acquisition of Monsanto, for more than 60 billion dollars, in 2018.
Werner Baumann, architect of the agreement with Monsanto, was renewed in 2020 until 2024 and declared at the time that he would leave the company at the end of this mandate.
Union Investment, a mutual fund group, criticized the chairman of Bayer a week ago for his lack of commitment, particularly in relation to exploring a spin-off from the “consumer health care” division of the company.
Bayer is also facing demands from activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners, which wants the company to be broken up, including the sale of its consumer healthcare unit and, later, a separation of its pharmaceutical and agricultural businesses.
Another activist fund, Inclusive Capital Partners, also said this month that it had acquired a stake in Bayer.
(Report by Ludwig Burger, French version Benjamin Mallet)
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