Bayer shareholders hold CEO’s feet to the fire

April 29, 2019

Since Bayer’s $63 billion takeover of Monsanto, the German drug giant’s stock has fallen by about 30 percent — and the company’s shareholders are signaling their unhappiness with the deal.

On Friday, about 55 percent of Bayer’s shareholders voted not to ratify the actions of management at the company’s general annual meeting in Germany. Although the vote won’t trigger any actions against Bayer’s management, it signals shareholder sentiment to the company, and is the lowest approval rating in Bayer’s postwar history. 

In particular, shareholders have been upset about the impact of Monsanto’s legal baggage on Bayer’s reputation and bottom line. In August a U.S. jury found Monsanto liable for not adequately warning consumers about cancer risks associated with its popular weed killer, Roundup. The decision slashed Bayer’s market value by $34 billion.

In the company meeting, Bayer’s CEO, Werner Baumann acknowledged the setback and said the company was “looking back on a difficult year.” But he argued that the deal has given the company a leading edge in the agriculture market.

Despite management’s dismal approval, few shareholders signaled any interest publicly in replacing Baumann or other executives while the company is undergoing the merger and other major business changes.

Read the full Reuters report.