Bayer to Settle Lawsuits Over Weed Killer Roundup for $10.9B

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Bayer inherited its legal headaches after purchasing Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion.

Under the agreement, Bayer will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve current litigation, and $1.25 billion to address potential future litigation, even as the company continues to maintain that Roundup is safe.

Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer's American depositary receipts climbed on the settlement news, gaining as much as as 5%.

Bayer today announced a series of agreements that will "substantially resolve" major outstanding Monsanto litigation, including US Roundup product liability litigation, dicamba drift litigation and PCB water litigation. Bayer said the panel will determine whether Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and if so, at what minimum exposure levels.

The company said Wednesday the series of agreements brings closure to approximately 75 percent of current litigation involving Roundup, which was developed by Monsanto.

Roundup, made by Bayer subsidiary Monsanto, is the largest selling glyphosate-based weedkiller in New Zealand.

The group said it would pay up to $400 million to resolve pending claims in Missouri for the 2012-2015 crop years. Claimants will be required to provide proof their crop yields were damaged by dicamba, Bayer said. The company said it expects a contribution from its co-defendant, BASF, towards this settlement. The settlement also resolves many other cases over the herbicide dicamba as well as water contaminated with toxic chemicals called PCBs.

Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, is banned in several countries, with many others planning to introduce restrictions or bans.

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Under the terms of the Roundup settlement, Bayer will set up a $1.25 billion fund to cover future cancer claims.

Access to Roundup products won't change, but Bayer said it would continue to offer customers more herbicide options through its 10-year investment in developing new methods to manage weeds to support sustainable agriculture. The company also is refusing to settle the three damage verdicts totaling more than $191 million, which are on appeal. A federal judge ruled earlier this week that California officials can't force companies to place warning labels on glyphosate-based products.

Glyphosate is relatively low-cost and the most commonly used agricultural herbicide in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Bayer faced a surge in new lawsuits previous year after it lost the US jury trials, and investors issued a rare rebuke to Baumann last spring.

"First and foremost, the Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end", chief executive Werner Baumann said.

Bayer said in February it did not need to write down Monsanto's value in its books if it has to spend $10 billion on a settlement, reflecting the average analyst estimate at the time.

Ellmanns said sales of Bayer's glyphosate weed sprays in Australia were performing strongly.

Parts of the deal are pending court approval, including from Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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