BERLIN—Bayer AG on Tuesday posted a loss in the third quarter as the coronavirus pandemic compounded problems the German chemical and drug giant has been facing since its acquisition of agriculture giant Monsanto just over two years ago.
Bayer also said it would need an extra $750,000 on top of a settlement worth up to $10.9 billion it announced over the summer to resolve a legal battle with U.S. plaintiffs alleging the Roundup weedkillers inherited from Monsanto cause cancer. Bayer has consistently denied that Roundup or its ingredients cause cancer.
Bayer, the inventor of aspirin, bet big on agriculture with its $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto in 2018. The move was supposed to help the German company tap into rising demand driven by rapid population growth. Instead, it exposed Bayer to open-ended legal liabilities and a market that has been severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The legal battle with plaintiffs claiming that Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate cause cancer sent its share price falling to record lows. The planned settlement hasn’t so far been finalized. And now the pandemic is hurting a crops-science business that since the Monsanto integration has grown to just under half the group’s total sales.
Last month, Bayer issued a profit warning for 2021, blaming low prices for major crops, falling demand for biofuel and tougher competition in the soy market. Bayer then said it expected to write down the value of assets in the agricultural business in the “mid to high-single-digit billion euros” range.