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Bayer CEO says his team retains backing of supervisory board - report

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer’s management retains the backing of its supervisory board, its chief executive said, after pressure on the company increased when a second jury in the United States ruled its glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused cancer.

Bayer, which denies allegations that glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer, acquired Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, for $63 billion (£47.68 billion) last year.

Its shares have fallen a third over the last 12 months burdened by thousands of lawsuits over a suspected cancer link to Roundup.

“The share price is significantly impacted by the legal cases related to glyphosate in America, the discounts are greatly exaggerated,” Chief Executive Werner Baumann told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS).

“The management board enjoys the full backing of the supervisory board,” added Baumann, who has been Bayer CEO for almost three years.

A U.S. jury last week found that Roundup caused cancer, a blow to the company eight months after another jury issued a $289 million verdict over similar claims in a different case. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

Baumann defended Bayer’s move to acquire Monsanto, saying it “was and is a good idea”, according to the FAS interview.

Asked about a potential breakup of Bayer, Baumann said the group had a clear strategy based on three divisions — pharmaceuticals, crop science and consumer health.

“We want to strategically develop these three pillars, all three markets are attractive.”

Talk of a break-up has been fuelled since it emerged in December that activist fund Elliott had taken a stake.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Keith Weir)

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