This article was first published on Insightia’s Activism module on March 28, 2022. For more information about the product, click here.
Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek Holdings is reportedly agitating for the removal of Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann, displeased with his performance. Baumann is already facing pressure from Alatus Capital.
Temasek is concerned about Bayer’s operating performance under Baumann, who became the drugmaker’s CEO in May 2016, and the company’s lack of succession planning, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The state investor is also unhappy with the leadership of Bayer’s supervisory board Chairman Norbert Winkeljohann.
Temasek, a leading Bayer shareholder ever since it acquired a near-4% stake in 2018, could request a no-confidence vote in Baumann or vote against ratifying management’s performance at the upcoming April 29 annual meeting, the people added.
Another Bayer investor, Alatus, recently penned a letter in which claimed Baumann has failed to lay out and implement a strategy that produces long-term growth for the crop science and pharmaceutical divisions. Alatus said this has led to share price underperformance, the activist noting that Bayer’s stock nearly halved during Baumann’s tenure, with significant decreases in earnings and dividends too.
Alatus said it would not ratify Baumann’s performance and called on Bayer to allow shareholders to vote on members of Bayer’s management team individually at the annual meeting, rather than as a whole.
Responding to the activist, Bayer said Baumann was successful in steering the group through various challenges in recent years, including efforts to resolve litigation tied to liabilities stemming from its $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto in 2018 – a deal spearheaded by Baumann.
Bayer also cited earnings growth in 2021 in Baumann’s defense and said portfolio changes in the last decade have made the group “considerably” less energy-intensive, which has made it more resilient in the face of crises such as the one caused by COVID-19 and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
In 2019, Baumann saw a large protest vote but that was largely symbolic and Bayer’s board has continued to back him. He is expected to lead the group until April 2024.
Shares in Bayer were up 3% as of 11:37 a.m. Central European Time Summer Monday, taking 12-month gains to 17%.