Bayer reports surge in number of legal cases over Roundup

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


German chemical and pharmaceutical giant Bayer reported Wednesday the number of US legal cases targeting it over weedkiller Roundup has more than doubled over the past three months, to 42,700.

The group blamed the explosive growth on massive spending on TV advertising by lawyers seeking new plaintiffs over controversial active ingredient glyphosate, with the figure for October up from 18,400 in July.

Bayer's ever-mounting wave of lawsuits in the US follows its takeover of seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto last year for $63 billion, one of the largest foreign acquisitions in German corporate history.

A court-appointed mediator between Bayer and US plaintiffs in August denied reports the company had offered an $8 billion settlement to get the cases off its back.

Juries in several lower courts granted plaintiffs massive damages awards over Roundup, although they were later reduced by judges and Bayer vowed to appeal -- saying the weight of scientific evidence is against glyphosate causing cancer when used appropriately.

Also Wednesday, Bayer reported a 63.9-percent year-on-year plunge in third-quarter net profit, to 1.04 billion euros ($1.15 billion).

The group blamed the tumble on the comparison with last year's third quarter, which saw a massive windfall from businesses competition watchdogs forced it to sell in exchange for their green light to the Monsanto deal.

In operating, or underlying profits counting out such one-off effects, Bayer saw growth of 2.8 percent, to 1.23 billion euros.

Meanwhile revenues grew 6.1 percent, to 9.83 billion euros.

The third quarter was marked by Bayer's deal to sell its veterinary medicines unit to US-based Elanco Animal Health for $7.6 billion, while it will also hand two flagship over-the-counter medicines brands -- Dr Scholl's and Coppertone -- to American and German buyers.