FRANKFURT AM MAIN, May 25 — Shares in German chemical giant Bayer rose sharply today after reports it was close to a mass deal with American plaintiffs who say their cancers were caused by unit Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.
Bayer stock was up around 5.3 per cent at €60.69 (US$66) in Frankfurt just after 0800 GMT, well ahead of the DAX blue-chip index, which gained 0.8 per cent.
“We’ve made progress in the Roundup mediation discussions,” company spokesman Christian Hartel told AFP, but added that Bayer “will not speculate about settlement outcomes or timing”.
Citing “people familiar with the negotiations”, Bloomberg News earlier reported that the group had struck “verbal agreements” with between 50,00 and 80,000 out of a total of 125,000 US plaintiffs, set to be formalised in June.
Roundup is a flagship Monsanto product containing glyphosate, a weedkiller tens of thousands of plaintiffs say caused their illnesses — with many suffering from the blood cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
After a clutch of financially painful first-instance US court rulings last year against Bayer, which bought Monsanto for US$63 billion in 2018, the group has spent months in talks with lawyers for people who say they were harmed by the chemical.
Bayer said in April that it was the target of around 52,500 American lawsuits related to Roundup, well below the number reported by Bloomberg.
Spokesman Hartel said that the reported figure of 125,000 “includes a substantial number of potential plaintiffs with unfiled or unserved cases”.
Bayer has held fast to reams of scientific studies and regulatory approvals it says prove Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate is safe, but said when it released first-quarter earnings data last month that it “continues to engage constructively in the mediation process”.
Some analysts have estimated that a final out-of-court payout to settle the lawsuits could climb into the double-digit billions.
Bloomberg reported the company would earmark US$8 billion for current cases and US$2 billion for future complaints.
Meanwhile the group continues to appeal the rulings against it last year, which saw a total of US$2.4 billion in damages awarded by juries, later slashed to US$191 million. — AFP