By Craig Giammona
The last scheduled trial of the year over Bayer AG’s Roundup herbicide has been postponed at the request of both parties, indicating that talks toward a settlement may be progressing.
The delay to the trial in St. Louis, following two other postponements in August, gives the German drug and chemical giant breathing room to pursue negotiations over more than 18,000 claims that the weedkiller causes cancer -- which Bayer denies.
The shares rose as much as 2.9% early Monday in Frankfurt, though they’ve fallen by more than a third since Bayer acquired U.S. seed and pesticide giant Monsanto for $63 billion last year.
The latest development is a positive sign about the talks, Tom Claps, a litigation analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, wrote in a note.
Settling all the Roundup cases could cost about $9 billion, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mustaq Rahaman said in a note, while other estimates have ranged from $2.5 billion to $20 billion. A deal might not end calls from activist investors for a split of the company’s pharma and crop science businesses, he said.
Bayer’s future is clouded by the surging volume of Roundup cases, which have cast doubt over its decision to buy Monsanto, the product’s original maker. The fallout has erased more than $30 billion in market value for Bayer.
“The parties will work with the court to determine a new date,” the company said in a statement about the St. Louis trial’s postponement.
Bayer has lost three cases over Roundup’s links to cancer in the U.S. The company has appealed the decisions, insisting that the weedkiller is safe. California listed the substance as a carcinogen under its Proposition 65 toxic warnings law two years ago.
Major investors -- such as U.S.-based billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. -- have been urging Bayer to consider a settlement. The talks are being led by high-profile mediator Ken Feinberg.