Bayer offering to pay $8bn to settle US lawsuits alleging herbicide causes cancer

An agreement, which could take months to work out, would ease pressure over massive litigation exposure the German group took on with its purchase of the Roundup weedkiller

A file photo taken on July 09th 2018 of  Roundup products as seen for sale at a hardware store in California. Photograph: JOSH EDELSON / AFP)JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

A file photo taken on July 09th 2018 of Roundup products as seen for sale at a hardware store in California. Photograph: JOSH EDELSON / AFP)JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

 

Bayer AG is proposing to pay as much as $8 billion to settle more than 18,000 US lawsuits alleging its Roundup herbicide causes cancer, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

An agreement, which could take months to work out, would ease investor pressure over massive litigation exposure the German drug and chemical giant took on with its purchase of the weedkiller’s maker, Monsanto Co.

The fallout has erased more than $30 billion in market value, prompted an unprecedented shareholder vote of no confidence in the company’s management and fueled speculation about a breakup.

While Bayer floated paying $6 billion to $8 billion to resolve current and future cases, plaintiffs’ lawyers want more than $10 billion to drop their claims, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private.

How to compensate consumers who have yet to be diagnosed with illness is a sticking point, and there’s no guarantee the two sides will come to terms anytime soon, they added.

Share surge

Bayer shares surged more than 11 per cent on Friday in Frankfurt, the most in a decade on an intraday basis. They’ve still fallen about one-third in the 14 months since the Monsanto deal was completed. The bonds also rose.

“$8 billion would be lower than most analysts are forecasting and many investors fearing,” Markus Mayer, an analyst at Baader Helvea, wrote by email.

Bayer spokesman Tino Andresen declined to comment on any settlement talks.

Bayer’s lawyers and attorneys for former Roundup users are in ongoing talks, based in New York City, aimed at hammering out an accord to resolve all current cases and any future cancer claims filed over the world’s top-selling weedkiller, people familiar with the discussions said.

The negotiations have advanced to the point that Bayer and plaintiffs’ lawyers asked two judges in St Louis to push back cases set for trial starting soon, the people said.

- Bloomberg