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Bayer earnings slump as Monsanto lawsuits pile up

The number of lawsuits targeting Monsanto over Roundup has grown
The number of lawsuits targeting Monsanto over Roundup has grown AFP/File
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Berlin (AFP)

German chemicals giant Bayer said its first quarter net profit slumped by more than a third, as it booked a big charge amid a flood of lawsuits over its subsidiary Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller.

Amid the legal entanglements and ongoing costs integrating Monsanto, Bayer's first quarter earnings slumped by 36 percent to 1.241 billion euros ($1.38 billion).

Bayer, which bought Monsanto for $63 billion in June last year, said it now faced lawsuits from 13,400 plaintiffs over the glyphosate weedkiller.

It booked a charge of 51 million euros for "litigations and legal risks" in the first three months of 2019, up sharply from 4 million euros a year ago.

Of the looming Roundup lawsuits, Bayer stressed that it "continues to believe that it has meritorious defences and intends to defend itself vigorously in all of these lawsuits."

Monsanto was ordered last month by a court to pay $80 million to an American retiree who blames his cancer on the weedkiller.

The verdict was the second stinging defeat for the company in recent months, after it lost a case to a California school groundskeeper suffering from terminal non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

It was initially ordered to pay $289 million to the plaintiff, before the damages were reduced to $78.5 million.

Bayer is appealing those cases.

A third trial is underway in Alameda County, while another four are scheduled in Missouri and Montana for 2019, Bayer said.

Amid the legal entanglements and ongoing costs integrating Monsanto, Bayer's first quarter earnings slumped by 36 percent to 1.241 billion euros.

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