Bayer AG (BAYRY) shares traded sharply higher Friday, well outpacing the broader German market, following a report that suggested it could pay $8 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits linked to its Roundup weedkiller.
Bloomberg reported Friday that Bayer proposed the $8 billion payment, which would cover 18,000 outstanding lawsuits, although questions remains as to how plaintiffs' attorneys will calculate compensation for victims that have yet-to-be-diagnosed illnesses from long-term exposure to Roundup, which was first made by Monsanto by bought by Bayer as part of its $63 takeover last year.
Analysts have estimated Bayer's glyphosate-based products liability at anywhere between €4 billion and €15 billion, and the company has said some 13,400 lawsuits remain outstanding.
Bayer shares were marked 5% higher in on the Deutsche Boerse in Frankfurt Friday, compared to a 1% decline for the DAX performance index benchmark, to change hands at €66.06 each, a move that extends the stock's year-to-date gain past 10%.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria upheld a March jury verdict that awarded Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California $5.27 million in compensatory damages after he claimed his long-term exposure to Roundup caused his cancer diagnosis in 2014.
The San Francisco judge, however, cut the level of punitive damages to $20 million from $75 million, noting he award breached Federal laws on the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages.
In early June, a jury in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California which awarded Alva and Alberta Pilliod $2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory relief after the pair said Roundup killer caused them to contract cancer.
That verdict followed a 2018 decision from San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who ruled that said Bayer should pay $39 million in punitive damages and a further $49 billion in compensatory damages to Dewayne Johnson, a school district groundskeeper who argued that Roundup and Ranger Pro weedkillers, as well as its other glyphosate-based products, did not carry sufficient warnings for the risks of cancer that they carried.
Earlier this spring, activist investor Elliot Advisors revealed a $1.1 billion stake in the chemicals group and supported plans to boost its legal team in the face of thousands of Roundup weedkiller lawsuits.
Elliot revealed its stake late Wednesday after Bayer said it hired outside counsel to advise its supervisory board amid myriad lawsuits linked to its glyphosate-based weedkiller, known as Roundup, which is assumed following its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto last year.