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Bayer sells assets, cuts jobs, takes impairment charge



FILE PHOTO: A plant belonging to Germany’s largest drugmaker Bayer is seen in Leverkusen December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer (BAYGn.DE), the German drugmaker that bought U.S. seed company Monsanto, on Thursday announced the sale of a number of businesses, job cuts affecting 10 percent of its staff and 3.3 billion euros ($3.8 billion) in impairments.

Chief Executive Werner Baumann is under pressure to boost Bayer’s share price after a drop of more than 35 percent so far this year, dragged lower by concern over more than 9,000 lawsuits it faces over an alleged cancer-causing effect of Monsanto weed killer Roundup.

The group is looking into strategic options for product lines Coppertone for sunscreen and Dr. Scholl’s for foot care, among the main brands of Merck & Co’s (MRK.N) consumer healthcare division it bought in 2014 for $14 billion.

Bayer will also divest its animal health division, the number five player in the industry, which analysts have said could fetch 6-7 billion euros ($7.94 billion).

It would seek a buyer for its 60-percent stake in German chemical production site services provider Currenta.

All three possible transactions were previously flagged by Reuters reports.

Under a cost cutting program that will also target synergies expected from the $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto, Bayer will cut around 12,000 of its 118,200 jobs worldwide.

At the Consumer Health and Pharmaceuticals divisions, Bayer will take about 3.3 billion euros in impairments and write-offs the fourth quarter.

Consumer Health brands acquired with the Merck & Co. and Dihon businesses will account for 2.7 billion euros of that, while about 600 million euros impairments and write-offs are due to a decision not to utilize a hemophilia drug factory in the German city of Wuppertal and to concentrate production in Berkeley, United States.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger, editing by Tassilo Hummel