Bonn (AFP) – Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann was dealt a blow Friday at the German chemical giant's annual general meeting, amid tensions last year's decision to buy US seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto, as disgruntled shareholders voted against management. 1
The result is a relax in the face of Baumann and his management team. Although the vote carries no direct consequences, it is a clear statement by disgruntled shareholders.  Around 500 protesters gathered outside the Bonn conference center with placards mocking Bayer's corporate motto "science for a better life" or calling to "stop glyphosate", The Monsanto-made herbicide at the center of the group's woes
Inside, investors were fuming.
"Bayer has choked on Monsanto," said Ingo Speich or Deka bank. Mark Tuemmler of investors' federation DSW said 2018 was "a nightmare for shareholders".
– "A scandal" –
Bayer's share price fell last year by around 40 percent following its $ 63 billion takeover of Monsanto in June – the biggest in German history.
At 57 billion euros, its market capitalization is little higher than the price it paid to acquire Monsanto in the first place.
"A scandal," Tuemmler said.
Opening the meeting, Baumann acknowledged that some 13,400 US lawsuits relate to glyphosate and initial unfavorable judgments against Bayer "are placing a heavy burden on our company and worrying many people"
Last year's share price plunge was driven by the first of two jury rulers so far that it has awarded plaintiffs – cancer patients who had been exposed to glyphosate over long periods – $ 80 million each.
Baumann complained that such decisions had been the basis on 2015 finding by World Health Organization arm IARC that glyphosate "probably" causes cancer.
"We remain convinced of the safety of glyphosate," the CEO said, recalling regulators worldwide found no new evidence that the pesticide causes cancer in reviews prompted by the IARC judgment
In the two cases already heard, "we remain optimistic that the next higher courts will reach different verdicts," the CEO added, calling for "decisions based on scientific analysis – and not on emotions ".
The business case for the merger remained as strong as ever, he is an insured investor, with the merged companies now operating" leading businesses in chemical and biological crop protection, in conventional and biotech seed, and also in digital farming ".
Also reported on the group's targets – including its pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medicines – to increase sales four percent, to 46 billion euros ($ 51 billion) in 2019, with an operating profit margin. ore special items or 12.2 billion euros
Current market reactions were "exaggerated" and did not reflect Bayer's "true value", said. At around 3:00 pm (1300 GMT), Bayer had gained around one percent on the Frankfurt stock market to trade at 61.63 euros, outperforming the DAX index of blue-chip shares.