June 23, 2020 / 2:08 PM / in 22 days

Bayer nears glyphosate settlement after lengthy talks - sources

(Reuters) - Germany’s Bayer (BAYGn.DE) is set to reach a settlement this week with U.S. plaintiffs that claim its glyphosate-based weedkillers cause cancer, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Logo and flags of Bayer AG are pictured outside a plant of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Wuppertal, Germany August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

After more than a year of talks, however, some details and the overall amount of the settlement have yet to be finalised, one of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

German business daily Handelsblatt earlier on Tuesday reported a deal was imminent, with Bayer pledging $8-$10 billion (£6.4-8 billion) to settle the claims, including a $2 billion buffer for future cases.

The drugs and pesticides group, which said in May that talks were progressing, is keen to draw a line under the legal dispute over Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers, which it inherited via its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto in 2018.

Its shares rose 6% to 72.78 euros at 1400 GMT. Still, they were more than 20% below their value August 2018, when Bayer lost the first of three court cases with damages in the tens of millions being awarded to plaintiffs.

Bayer, which has repeatedly said the product is safe to use and has approval from market regulators, is appealing all three jury verdicts.

In April, Bayer’s management regained shareholder support for its handling of the litigation process.

A Bayer spokesman declined to comment. Perry Weitz of Weitz & Luxenberg, one of the leading plaintiffs’ firms involved in the Roundup litigation, also would not comment.

Court-appointed mediator Ken Feinberg, who started work little over a year ago, also declined comment.

The company’s supervisory board was due to discuss and vote on the settlement in the coming days, Handelsblatt cited company and negotiating partner sources as saying.

As of April, the company had been sued by 52,500 U.S. plaintiffs who blame Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers for their cancer, up from 48,600 in February.

Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Barbara Lewis

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