Bayer to sell businesses, cut jobs after Monsanto deal

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer (BAYGn.DE), the German drugmaker that bought U.S. seed company Monsanto, on Thursday announced the sale of a number of businesses, job cuts affecting thousands of its staff and 3.3 billion euros ($ 3.8 billion) in impairments.

FILE PHOTO: A plant belonging to Germany’s largest drugmaker Bayer is seen in Leverkusen December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo

The group is looking into strategic options for product lines including Coppertone sunscreen and Dr. Scholl’s for foot care, among the main brands from Merck & Co’s (MRK.N) consumer healthcare division it bought in 2014 for $ 14 billion.

Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann is under pressure to boost Bayer’s share price after a drop of more than 35 percent so far this year, dragged down by concern over more than 9,000 lawsuits it faces over an alleged cancer-causing effect of Monsanto weed killer Roundup.

Bayer will also divest its animal health division, the number five player in the industry, which analysts have said could fetch 6-7 billion euros ($ 7.94 billion).

The unit, the largest maker of flea and tick control products for cats and dogs and a supplier of live-stock veterinary drugs, had sales of 1.57 billion euros in 2017, accounting for about 4.5 percent of group revenues.

There has already been consolidation in animal health, with Pfizer (PFE.N) and Eli Lilly (LLY.N), successfully floating their veterinary medicine units on the stock market as independent entities.

Bayer ranks fifth in veterinary medicine, surpassed in size by Zoetis (ZTS.N), the former Pfizer unit, Elanco (ELAN.N), unlisted Boehringer Ingelheim, which acquired animal health assets from Sanofi (SASY.PA), and drugmaker Merck & Co (MRK.N).

Bayer would seek a buyer for its 60-percent stake in German chemical production site services provider Currenta.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the Bayer Healthcare subgroup production plant in Wuppertal, Germany February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo

All three possible transactions were previously flagged by Reuters reports.

The shares were down 0.5 percent at 1500 GMT.

JOB CUTS

Under a cost cutting program that will also target synergies expected from the $ 63 billion acquisition of Monsanto, Bayer will cut around 12,000 of its 118,200 jobs worldwide.

At the Consumer Health and Pharmaceuticals divisions, Bayer will take about 3.3 billion euros in impairments and write-offs the fourth quarter.

Consumer Health brands acquired with the Merck & Co. and Dihon businesses will account for 2.7 billion euros of that, while about 600 million euros impairments and write-offs are due to a decision not to utilize a hemophilia drug factory in the German city of Wuppertal and to concentrate production in Berkeley, United States.

The consumer healthcare unit, which sells non-prescription treatments, has faced falling revenues as U.S. consumers went from established drugstores to online shops, often switching to cheaper brands.

In the first nine months of 2018, Bayer consumer health products’ sales declined by 0.4 percent when excluding currency swings, following a drop of 1.7 percent in the full year of 2017.

The company said it was targeting core earnings per share of 6.80 euros in 2019, up from an expected 5.70 to 5.90 euros this year, with a 2022 target of around 10 euros, when discounting the effect of currency swings and portfolio changes.

The group’s margin of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and special items over sales should increase to over 30 percent by 2022, up from 26.5 percent last year, it added.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Keith Weir

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