Is Bayer finally heading for a Roundup deal? Its new legal team suggests so
fiercepharma | June 28, 2019
Bayer has said it intends to defend itself vigorously in thousands of lawsuits that claim its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. But that harsh tone has softened, increasing the possibility that a settlement could be near. The German company has hired an independent lawyer to advise its supervisory board on the Roundup litigation and set up a special committee to oversee it. “The supervisory board recognizes the negative effect the litigation uncertainty has had on the stock price and stakeholder perception and is determined to help the company decisively but prudently advance the matter,” Bayer said in a statement. Besides the ongoing litigation, it also “looks forward to constructively engaging in the mediation process,” the company said. Investors soon applauded the moves, sending Bayer’s stock in Frankfurt up 8.7% Wednesday, which marked its biggest daily gain in a decade, Reuters reported. The steps are widely interpreted as a sign that a settlement could be on the way. “Ultimately, we believe today’s announcement makes a settlement more likely,” Bernstein analysts Gunther Zechmann and Wimal Kapadia said in a Thursday note to clients. The analysts just recently called on Bayer management to settle the mounting cases and stop past practices of “campaigning” to defend the chemical. Billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management, which holds €1.1 billion ($1.25 billion) in Bayer shares, also said the new development could help resolve uncertainty around the litigation and lead to settlements, according to Reuters.