Bayer CEO Wenning slams rule blocking his move to supervisory board

16 September 2010 16:20  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Bayer's CEO Werner Wenning on Thursday sharply criticised new German legislative rules that block him from following his predecessors in becoming the company's supervisory board chairman.

Wenning is due to step down as chief executive by the end of the month, to be succeeded by Marijn Dekkers.

“I think these rules go too far and are causing damage,” Wenning said in an interview with German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The paper provided a transcript of the interview.

“Of course I would have liked to become Bayer’s supervisory board chairman. Bayer is ‘my company’, after all, and it will always be,” he added.

Bayer had always benefited in the past by having former CEOs head the supervisory board, he said.

Wenning’s predecessor Manfred Schneider became supervisory board chairman after stepping down as CEO in 2002. And at BASF, former CEO Jurgen Strube immediately took over as supervisory board chairman in 2003 when Jurgen Hambrecht became CEO.

The new legal rules – known as “Deutscher Corporate Governance Kodex” – impose a two-year waiting period before former CEOs of public companies can join their firm’s supervisory boards.

Proponents of the change have argued that supervisory board members needed some distance from the company to be more objective in effectively doing their jobs.

In the interview, Wenning also said he would have liked to do few more acquisitions, for example a large deal in animal health - in addition to Bayer’s purchase of Schering in 2006.

Wenning also reiterated earlier criticisms of aspects of Germany’s energy and health policies.

A sustainable energy strategy was a key plank for Germany’s future competitiveness, he said.

Meanwhile, in health policies, the government was intervening too much in the pricing mechanisms for drugs and medications, he said.

Wenning added he would not hesitate to join further appeals – like the “open letter” on government energy policies last month – if necessary.

For more on Bayer, BASF and other producers visit ICIS company intelligence
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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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