Bayer stands by Germany CO pipeline project - CEO

12 May 2009 15:03  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Bayer stands by its carbon monoxide (CO) pipeline project to connect two production sites in its home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, in northwest Germany, CEO Werner Wenning said on Tuesday.

The pipeline’s safety concept exceeded existing standards and legal requirements, Wenning told shareholders in a speech during the company’s annual meeting in Dusseldorf.

An administrative court in Dusseldorf is to due begin reviewing the project on Tuesday in a non-public hearing.

The 67km pipeline would connect Bayer’s chemical production sites in Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen. It is about 99% complete but local residents have objected to it, prompting a court in Munster in late 2007 to block the company from starting it up for the time being.

Wenning, in his speech, also welcomed renewed support for the project by North Rhine-Westphalia's state parliament last month.

“Now especially, at this time of severe economic crisis, we must take advantage of the opportunities and the strengths that locations such as North Rhine-Westphalia have to offer,” Wenning said.

He said safeguarding jobs would continue to require more investment, particularly in production facilities.

The competition between different locations for that investment would become even more intense, and Germany needed to ensure it remained an attractive location for the chemicals industry, he said.

Wenning also said that Bayer planned to spend €2.9bn ($3.9bn) on research and development in 2009, the highest R&D budget in the company’s history.

“We are optimistic that we will emerge from this crisis even stronger than before, and we believe the [Bayer] group is on track for long-term success, thanks to the potential our portfolio holds for innovation and growth,” Wenning said.

Bayer has proposed to increase its dividend by 3.7% to €1.40/share, for a total payout to shareholders of €1.07bn, it said.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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