The new group leader has been able to familiarize himself with it since April – and should now have a clearer picture of the Dax group. And he promises nothing less than extraordinary results.
At the general meeting of the pharmaceutical and agrochemical group at the end of April, Bill Anderson (56) spoke of growing anticipation the more he “learned about the innovations and the people at Bayer.” On June 1, the American will succeed Werner Baumann (60) at the top of the group – as head of more than 100,000 employees. The graduate chemical engineer and pharmaceutical expert is full of praise for the products and the culture of the Bayer Group. But he also gives his board colleagues the following sentence: “The potential is huge, but we all know that potential alone is not enough.” So there seems to be a lot to do.
While the business with over-the-counter medicines is back on track, the significantly larger pharmaceutical division with medicines such as the anticoagulant Xarelto and the eye medicine Eylea has recently weakened. In addition, Bayer will have to fill gaps in sales in the future, which will gradually open up as the patents on the two blockbusters expire. Pharma boss Stefan Oelrich has strengthened the division in recent years with new drugs and investments, for example in promising cell and gene therapies. However, financial successes can only be expected in the longer term.
And then there is the agricultural division, which has had a strong year in 2022 and thanks to new products – such as short-growing and therefore more weatherproof corn – industry experts have great confidence. But it also fluctuates more. In order to expand the agricultural business, Bayer took over the US seed and agrochemical group Monsanto under the leadership of Werner Baumann in 2018.
Cause glyphosate cost Bayer many billions
With the more than 60 billion US dollar purchase of Monsanto, the Leverkusen-based company had not only brought successful products into the house, but also the US legal disputes about alleged cancer risks of weed killers containing glyphosate and the long-term effects of the chemical PCB, which has been banned for decades. In total, this has devoured many billions, especially the glyphosate cause.
So Anderson has some work to do. Added to this is the growing pressure from some investors in recent months, who are calling for the group to be split up. The reason: After the price decline in recent years, mainly because of the glyphosate issue, they see more value in the sum of the individual parts after a separation than in the Bayer group in its current form.
One thing is certain: the new group leader should – after he has been able to familiarize himself with the situation since April – now have a clearer picture of Bayer and what is to come. And he promises nothing less than extraordinary results, if his words at the AGM are to be believed.
In addition to his scientific education, Anderson brings with him a wealth of experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, including at Biogen, Genentech and most recently as the head of pharmaceuticals at Roche. Shareholders and employees will have to be patient until the manager presents his plans for Bayer’s future. Bernstein Research analyst Gunther Zechmann expects a strategy update later this year or early next year.