The first AGM shareholder vote is won by the Bayer CEO

Bayer CEO Bill Anderson emerged victorious at his inaugural annual general meeting (AGM), leading the embattled healthcare and agriculture conglomerate and rebuffing a challenge from a German mutual fund management firm. The group reported that 91.69% of the equity capital represented at the AGM backed Anderson and his senior management team.

Deka Investment, a mutual fund firm, diverged from other significant investors, abstaining from endorsing the previous year’s performance of the executive board. They emphasised the need for Anderson to prioritise improving share price performance.

While such votes are largely symbolic in determining management’s liability or tenure, they serve as a crucial indicator of investor sentiment, particularly in German AGMs. Despite Deka’s dissent, larger mutual fund management firms like DWS and Union Investment expressed support for the management board. Additionally, shareholder advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) backed Anderson.

During the AGM, Anderson reaffirmed his decision in March to halt any plans to break up the German pharmaceutical, crop protection, and consumer health companies for up to three years. Since assuming the CEO role in June 2023, Anderson has faced challenges, including ongoing U.S. litigation over the alleged carcinogenic properties of glyphosate weedkiller and setbacks in drug development, leading to a 47% decline in shares.

While Deka criticised Anderson’s tenure, citing insufficient focus on share price-related matters, Anderson pledged to prioritise drug development, address litigation issues, reduce debt, and streamline corporate bureaucracy. He acknowledged shareholders’ frustration with the declining share price and vowed to address their concerns diligently.

Harris Associates, another significant Bayer shareholder, expressed strong support for Anderson, endorsing his decision to suspend breakup plans for the company.


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