LONDON (Reuters) – Bayer (BAYGn.DE) shares soared as much as 11% on Friday on a report that the German company has proposed to pay up to $8 billion to settle more than 18,000 U.S. lawsuits related to its glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup.
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the facade of the historic headquarters of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Leverkusen, Germany, May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo
The stock was on track for its best single-day gain in a decade as traders said the settlement report from Bloomberg could relieve pressure on Bayer shares.
Bayer shares have lost more than a third, or roughly 30 billion euros ($34 billion), in market value since August last year, when a California jury in the first such lawsuit found that Monsanto should have warned of the alleged cancer risks from Roundup.
Bayer acquired Monsanto in a $63 billion deal last year.
The German drugs and pesticides company has engaged in negotiations with plaintiffs’ lawyers, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Bayer’s Chief Executive Werner Baumann last week said the company would consider settling with U.S. plaintiffs only on reasonable terms, and if such a move wraps up all cases.
He also said at the time the group was “constructively engaging” in a court-ordered process with mediator Ken Feinberg on the cases heard in federal court. Most of the pending cases, however, have been filed with U.S. state courts.
The company, which says regulators and extensive research have found glyphosate to be safe, has previously said it was banking on U.S. appeals courts to reverse or tone down three initial court rulings that have so far awarded tens of millions of dollars to each plaintiff.
A Bayer spokesman declined to comment.
Bloomberg cited three sources familiar with the discussions as saying that Bayer’s lawyers are seeking an accord to resolve all current and future cases.
While Bayer has indicated it could pay $6-$8 billion, plaintiffs’ lawyers want more than $10 billion to drop their claims, the report said.
At 0855 GMT, the shares were up 7.2% at 67.5 euros, the top gainer on Germany’s blue chip DAX 30 .GDAXI index.
The number of U.S. plaintiffs blaming Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers for their cancer continued to rise by 5,000 to 18,400, as a litigation wave that has crushed the group’s market value showed no sign of letting up.
Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Ludwig Burger; additional reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Josephine Mason/Keith Weir