Officially, the question of who will lead Bayer in the future won’t be answered until next year.
But inside the pharmaceutical and chemical giant, signs are pointing toward the current head of strategy and healthcare, Werner Baumann, as the most likely candidate to lead Germany’s most valuable industrial company, based on market capitalization, from the end of 2016 onward.
Some company insiders say Mr. Baumann is the favorite of Werner Wenning, the head of Bayer’s supervisory board. The two are said to have a tight relationship.
Mr. Baumann, born in Krefeld and educated as an economist, would succeed the current chief executive, Marijn Dekkers.
Mr. Dekkers was the first outsider and foreign manager to lead Bayer when he took over in 2010. But after six years at the top, he wants to relocate to spend more time in the United States.
His appointment proved to be a smart choice for Bayer, even though observers initially interpreted the selection of then-unknown Dutchman as a weakness of Bayer in developing suitable junior executives.
That won’t be an issue in Mr. Baumann’s case. The 52-year-old is a Bayer man to the core, having spent his entire career in the company.
“Mr. Baumann is being intensely groomed for the role of CEO.”
After studying economics at Aachen, Mr. Baumann started his career at Bayer in 1988, in the corporate finance department in Cologne. In the early 1990s, he oversaw Bayer’s Spanish division, moving later in 1966 to Bayer USA, where he led global business planning.
Back in Germany, in 2003, Mr. Baumann took his seat on the board of the newly formed subsidiary, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, as head of central administration and labor director.
As a board member of the Bayer Schering pharmaceutical group, established in 2006, he played an important role in integrating Schering, the Berlin pharmaceutical company, into Bayer’s realm.
In 2010, Mr. Wenning appointed him to the executive board as chief financial officer. Since October of last year, he has been responsible for the newly created department for strategy and portfolio management.
In April, he also took over as chief executive of Bayer Healthcare, by far the company’s most important subsidiary, with sales of €20 billion, or about $22.5 billion.
Many interpret the latest career steps as a clear signal that Mr. Baumann will succeed Mr. Dekkers.
“Mr. Baumann is being intensely groomed for the role of CEO,” a source inside Bayer told Handelsblatt. “The new strategy also bears his handprint.”
The executive from the Rhineland is seen as straightforward and simple. To outsiders, especially when presenting facts and figures, he often comes across as somewhat dry. He is appearing increasingly in the media.
He and supervisory board chair Werner Wenning share more than first names. Some say Mr. Baumann reminds them of “Mr. Wenning in his earlier years” – meaning they both have a detailed knowledge of Bayer’s many facets, which they learned in their previous roles chief financial officers.
Within the company, Mr. Baumann is well connected and involved in important decision-making. He is seen as a very disciplined manager with organizational talent.
In fact, some say his talent for structuring was a key reason behind the successful integration of Schering into the company. Over the course of his career, he has proven his ability to bring together and lead different platforms in the Bayer group.
He also enjoys an excellent reputation in the capital market, and is president of the German Equities Institute. Analysts value Mr. Baumann as a manager who speaks their language and keeps an eye on shareholder interests. They praise his ability to explain facts competently and in a structured way, and to set clear priorities.
Many believe Mr. Baumann is the obvious choice as Bayer’ new chief executive.
“I know of no one who could do the job better,” said one brokerage firm representative who asked to remain anonymous.
Bert Fröndhoff is deputy head of the companies and markets desk. Siegfriedn Hofmann reports on the chemical and pharmaceutical industries from the Frankfurt bureau. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.