You can’t blame the Americans at Monsanto any more. Europe’s most politically inflammatory chemical — the ubiquitous weedkiller glyphosate — is now well and truly a German problem.
Shareholders of the German chemical giant Bayer staged a full-blown revolt at a heated 13-hour meeting in Bonn on Friday, arguing that the management failed to see the company was inheriting a raft of nightmarish litigation associated with glyphosate when it bought U.S. agrichemical giant Monsanto for $66 billion last year.
The investors are furious that a blue-riband European company is now potentially exposed to billions of dollars of claims over the glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup,
created by Monsanto. Two U.S. court verdicts over the past year found that the world’s most popular herbicide caused cancer, hauling shares in Bayer down about 40 percent since August. Bayer has appealed those decisions but is now facing an avalanche of some 13,400 claims.
Ultimately only 44.48 percent of shareholders on Friday backed the management board headed by Chief Executive Werner Baumann. While the vote has no binding power, this is a huge reversal from the 97 percent support the board won last year. Support of only 61 percent from shareholders was enough to dislodge joint chief executives at Deutsche Bank in 2015.
“It is about time Bayer came to grips with the fact that they purchased Monsanto’s misconduct and, now, need to do right by the victims. It’s time to resolve these lawsuits and give Bayer shareholders confidence again in corporate leadership,” said Brent Wisner, an attorney at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, which is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Monsanto.
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