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Activist investor Jeff Ubben urges Bayer to look for external CEO

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US activist investor Jeff Ubben has called for Bayer to hire a new chief executive from outside its management ranks as his investment fund on Monday announced a stake in the German pharmaceuticals and crop science conglomerate.

Bayer has suffered from litigation over its weedkiller Roundup and years of shareholder discontent. Ubben’s more than €400mn stake, held through his firm Inclusive Capital Partners, amounts to 0.83 per cent of the company, the San Francisco-based firm said on Monday. Bayer’s shares closed up 2.6 per cent to €51.86 after the Financial Times first reported on Ubben’s investment.

The investment comes at a crucial time for Bayer, as the employment contract for chief executive Werner Baumann ends in April 2024. The German businessman has been heavily criticised by shareholders for his ill-fated decision in 2016 to acquire seedmaker Monsanto, the deal that brought Roundup under Bayer’s ownership.

The $63bn takeover, which faced shareholder opposition from the start, is widely regarded as one of the most damaging acquisitions in recent times.

Ubben, known on Wall Street as an activist who avoids hostile boardroom battles, said in an…

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