Bayer boss calls Monsanto takeover ‘a good idea’

FRANKFURT • The boss of German chemicals giant Bayer AG insisted yesterday its multibillion dollar takeover of Monsanto Co was a “good idea”, despite huge legal costs piling up over its Roundup weedkiller.

“The Monsanto acquisition was and is a good idea,” Werner Baumann (picture) told newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, when asked if he would have changed his mind about buying the US group if he could.

Bayer bought Monsanto for US$63 billion (RM256.08 billion), but the deal has turned out to be plagued with other massive costs.

Just two months after the acquisition was completed, Monsanto lost a case to a school groundskeeper suffering from terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who sued the company over the glyphosate weedkillers Roundup and Ranger Pro.

Monsanto was initially ordered to pay US$289 million to Johnson, before the damages were reduced to US$78.5 million. Bayer has filed an appeal.

The company suffered a new setback this month as a US jury ruled that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in another case brought by an amateur gardener who was suffering from cancer.

It now faces a total of 11,200 US cases over Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate, a herbicide key to Monsanto’s business model that has come in for intense scrutiny around the world.

Werner insisted the acquisition of Monsanto was carried out after careful due diligence. — AFP