Bayer Chief Executive Dekkers to Step Down at End of 2016

Bayer AG Chief Executive Officer Marijn Dekkers will step down at the end of 2016, setting up a contest for the top job at one of Germany’s largest companies.

Dekkers’s current five-year contract, which expires at the end of 2014, was extended by only two years at the request of the CEO, who cited family reasons, the drugmaker said in a statement. Chief Financial Officer Werner Baumann, 51, will become chief strategy and portfolio officer, and Johannes Dietsch, 52, a senior manager of Bayer’s Chinese operations, will become CFO.

Competition for the leadership at Leverkusen-based Bayer comes as the manufacturer considers the future of its three-legged corporate structure, under which it sells everything from industrial plastics and veterinary medicines to cancer drugs. The departure of the Dutch-born Dekkers may delay any reorganization, said Fabian Wenner, a Zurich-based analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux.

“The transformation story might slow down a bit unless Dekkers can put in his weight in the next 1 1/2 years,” Wenner said. “He was well-received and appreciated by the markets for his drive.”

Bayer fell 1.1 percent to close at 105.40 euros.

Consumer-Health Acquisition

Bayer is reviewing options for its MaterialScience chemicals unit, people with knowledge of the matter said in April. Dekkers, 56, cut the second-largest deal in Bayer’s history in May, agreeing to buy Merck & Co.’s consumer-health unit for $14.2 billion to solidify Bayer’s position near the top of that market. The CEO missed out on acquiring Novartis AG’s animal-health business, which the Swiss company sold in April for $5.4 billion to U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co.

Before joining Bayer in 2010, Dekkers ran Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., where he built a reputation as a dealmaker. The CEO worked in the U.S. for 25 years, and his teenage daughters plan to attend university there after they graduate from high school, said Christian Hartel, a Bayer spokesman.

Dekkers’s departure also gives his predecessor, former CEO Werner Wenning, a second chance to choose another heir. Wenning, who stepped down from the top management post at Bayer in 2010, returned as chairman of the supervisory board in 2012.

Hartel declined to comment on whether Baumann or Dietsch are candidates to become CEO. Like Wenning, both men grew up within the organization, Baumann having joined after his university degrees in 1988 and Dietsch in 1981, as a trainee. Either as CEO would be a return to form after Dekkers, who was the first outsider to lead Bayer.

“Baumann is certainly a good CFO, but he’s German and will move at the speed the board wants,” Wenner said.

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