Roundup litigation contributes to Bayer £8bn loss

Higher-than-expected costs for the ongoing Roundup court cases have contributed to a pre-tax loss of €9.4bn (£8.45bn) in the third quarter of 2020 for agrochemical giant Bayer.

A weaker demand from farmers due to low biofuel prices, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and €9.25bn (£8.32bn) in impairments on agriculture businesses – much of it related to the Monsanto deal – were also to blame.

Bayer has been involved in litigation over the Roundup weedkiller since its 2018 takeover of Monsanto, due to thousands of US lawsuits claiming the product causes cancer.

See also: Tax relief on equipment spending to be slashed in 2021

The company agreed a $10.9bn (£8.78bn) pay-out in June but a judge later took issue with a side arrangement on future cases that may yet be lodged, known as a class plan.

Addressing this objection will increase the cost of the settlement by about $750m (£576m), according to Bayer.

Currently 88,500 of the approximate 125,000 glyphosate claims in the class settlement have been agreed in principle, Bayer said. 

In addition, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has put further strain on the crop science division, said chief financial officer Wolfgang Nickl.

The charges more than offset combined gains booked in the quarter from the sale of its Animal Health business to Elanco,

and the divestment of a stake in industrial park operator Currenta of €5bn.

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