By Ruth Bender

 

BERLIN--Bayer AG said Friday that due to the coronavirus pandemic it would hold its highly anticipated annual shareholder meeting virtually this year, making use of a new law passed this week to allows German companies to convene online stockholder meetings for the first time.

The meeting is seen as a key gauge of investors' confidence in Chief Executive Werner Baumann, who lost the trust of many investors over his acquisition of Monsanto, which tipped Bayer into a legal battle with plaintiffs who allege that the U.S. company's Roundup weedkiller causes cancer.

At last year's meeting, Mr. Baumann became the first German CEO in post-war history to lose a regular shareholder confidence vote as shareholders vented their frustration at the steep share price fall that followed the first Roundup verdict. Mr. Baumann was the main architect of the Monsanto deal.

Analysts say the outcome of this year's vote on April 28 will depend on whether Bayer can show it has made progress in talks with plaintiff lawyers to settle the claims before the meeting by then.

Many German companies, such carmaker Daimler AG and utility RWE AG, in recent days announced they would postpone their regular shareholder meetings until further notice.

 

Write to Ruth Bender at ruth.bender@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 27, 2020 14:03 ET (18:03 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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