Bayer investors granted class-action status in lawsuit over Monsanto deal

A federal judge has given the green light for a class-action lawsuit to proceed against Bayer AG brought by investors unhappy with the company’s $63 billion purchase of Monsanto Co. in 2018.

The suit, brought by three pension funds, alleges that Bayer AG misled investors over the risks of the acquisition and failed to properly perform due diligence before buying Monsanto, which at that time was the world’s largest seed company and the maker of the popular, but controversial, Roundup weedkiller.

Just weeks after closing the deal, Bayer shares plunged when Monsanto lost a bellwether trial brought by a California groundskeeper who alleged he developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to his exposure to Monsanto’s weed killer. The loss triggered a flood of additional litigation and ultimately led Bayer to agree in 2020 to pay roughly $11 billion to try to settle similar claims brought by more than 100,000 plaintiffs.

Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto was dubbed one of the “worst corporate deals” in recent history by the Wall Street Journal.

“These declines in the value of Bayer … caused Lead Plaintiffs and other Class members to suffer significant loss and damages,” wrote the plaintiffs’ law firm, Cohen Milstein, in a statement. ”

The lead plaintiffs in the action are the Sheet Metal Workers’ National Pension Fund and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local No. 710 Pension Fund, along with an additional plaintiff – the International Union of Operating Engineers Pension Fund of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.