Bayer Names Werner Baumann to Succeed Marijn Dekkers as CEO

Bayer AG, Germany’s second-largest company by market value, named chief strategy and portfolio officer Werner Baumann as its next chief executive officer, ending almost two years of speculation on Marijn Dekkers’s successor.

Baumann will take over as CEO following the annual shareholders meeting at the end of April, as Dekkers has requested that his contract be terminated early, the Leverkusen, Germany-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. Baumann will retain his current responsibilities.

Baumann, 53, who joined Bayer more than two decades ago, has been the rumored favorite for the top job since Dekkers, 58, signaled his intent to leave the drugmaker this year. He will be taking over a company that has been reshaped in recent years by the divestment of its plastics unit Covestro and the acquisition of an over-the-counter medicines business from Merck & Co., increasing Bayer’s focus on life sciences.

“What needed to be done has been done over the last two or three years,” Eric Le Berrigaud, an analyst at Bryan Garnier & Co., said from Paris by phone. “I would expect only minor adjustments” to the strategy under Baumann, he said.

Shares of Bayer dropped 2.4 percent to 94.91 euros as of 1:49 p.m. in Frankfurt trading, matching a decline in Germany’s benchmark DAX Index. They have dropped 18 percent this year.

Dekkers has reshuffled top management and reorganized operations at the company in recent months. In January, Dieter Weinand became head of the pharmaceuticals division, while Erica Mann leads consumer health and Liam Condon runs its crop sciences unit.

Shares Double

“The course for successful future development has already been set at all levels,” Dekkers said, regarding his request to end his contract eight months ahead of schedule. “Also with a successor from within the company there will be no need for a familiarization period.”

Dekkers had extended his five-year contract, which was set to expire at the end of 2014, by only two years because of family reasons, the drugmaker said in June 2014. Shares of Bayer have more than doubled during his tenure.

Krefeld, Germany-born Baumann joined the company’s corporate finance department in 1988 after having studied economics at RWTH Aachen University and the University of Cologne. He took on a variety of roles across the globe before joining Bayer’s executive committee in 2002, in what was then Bayer’s health-care unit.

Bayer’s board will also be reduced to seven members, instead of eight, following Dekkers’s departure.

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