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Bayer Chairman quits after making progress to settle litigation

Bayer, which is fighting claims its weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, said its Chairman Werner Wenning was stepping down because the drugs and crop protection company was making good progress in settlement talks.

Reuters|
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2020, 05.05 PM IST
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Bayer, which is fighting claims its weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, said its Chairman Werner Wenning was stepping down because the drugs and crop protection company was making good progress in settlement talks. "We have made and continue to make progress in handling the legal issues in the U.S. That's why now is a good time to hand over to my successor," 73-year-old Wenning said in a statement on Wednesday.

Norbert Winkeljohann, who was head of auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Europe SE until June 2018 and has been a member of Bayer's supervisory board since 2018, will succeed Wenning after the annual shareholders' meeting on April 28, the company added. Wenning, whose term as chairman of Bayer's non-executive supervisory board would have expired in 2022, said he had originally intended to step down last year after reaching the board's recommended age limit of 72, but was asked to stay on.

Bayer last year started negotiations with plaintiffs' lawyers to settle U.S. lawsuits that claim its Roundup weedkiller, which contains glyphosate, causes cancer. In October 2019, the number of plaintiffs more than doubled to 42,700 within just three months and analysts have predicted it may cost they company up to $12 billion to lay the claims to rest.

Bayer in 2016 agreed to pay $63 billion including assumed debt for Roundup maker Monsanto, also the world's largest seeds maker, in a deal backed by Wenning and driven by the newly appointed Chief Executive Werner Baumann.
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