The end of the grace period is approaching
Bill Anderson, who has been leading Bayer since June, doesn't mince words. The company's performance? "Unacceptable." Maintaining the status quo? "Simply not an option." Simultaneously splitting the corporation into three parts? "We rule that out."
However, what initially sounds like a tough stance is, upon closer examination, an approach based on elimination. Results of the structural analysis are not expected until March of the coming year. The only thing set in stone is the implementation of the new working model, "Dynamic Shared Ownership," even though there are no solid figures and facts available at the moment – more on this will be revealed during the financial statement presentation in March, combined with the Capital Markets Day.
Anderson, however, is not tying himself up in knots over this. It is certainly wiser to explore options from all angles before making far-reaching decisions. Especially considering that the ongoing legal cases in the crop protection division are still not conclusively resolved, and it must be clear before any portfolio decision how the associated financial risks can be mitigated.
Nevertheless, it is cause for concern when a 19-page interim report reserves three pages solely for listing legal risks, all of which are connected to Monsanto. Moreover, these legal risks remain incalculable. This is evidenced not only by recent jury verdicts but also by the increasing number of lawsuits. According to the interim report, 52,000 cases are yet to be settled.
One might only wonder why the detailed structural analysis is being conducted only now. Anderson's predecessor, Werner Baumann, had already stated in May 2022, citing unpublished reports, that the question of a breakup was not relevant because it wouldn't lead to increased value.
Anderson doesn't shy away from admitting that much has gone awry in the past six years. He acknowledges that various traditional restructuring programs were carried out with the best intentions but did not yield sustainable financial success. The Bayer CEO laments the existence of twelve hierarchy levels between him and the customers, saying, "That's simply too much."
Undoubtedly, Anderson understands the growing expectations of his investors with each passing quarter. However, there is no quick fix. Currently, the former Roche executive is still seen as a potential solution to the problem, but the grace period is slowly running out.