When German pharmaceutical giant Bayer moved to acquire US agrochemical company Monsanto last year, marking the largest takeover effort ever undertaken by a German company, many of Bayer’s shareholders were highly critical. The acquisition, after all, cost Bayer $66 billion (€60.6 billion), a price some shareholders deemed too steep, and many feared the deal would cause Bayer to neglect its pharmaceutical business.
Seven months after the takeover deal was announced, on Friday, Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann appeared for the first time to answer directly before shareholders about the all-cash deal.
It’s a proving a tough sell. Prior to the acquisition announcement, many German investors knew Monsanto only as one of the most disliked companies in the world, notorious for its aggressive business practices and its controversial genetic engineering – something that Europeans in particular still remain deeply skeptical about. And while many investors understand the logic behind Bayer’s push to become the world’s largest player in the agrochemical industry, others remain wary of the deal – and what it might do to Bayer’s own bottom line.