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Bayer Settles More Baycol Cases

Apr 25, 2003 | AP

German drug maker Bayer AG said Friday more cases have been settled over an anti-cholesterol drug withdrawn in 2001 after it was linked to about 100 deaths worldwide.

The chemicals and pharmaceuticals company said it has now settled 740 Baycol cases out-of-court at a cost of around $219 million. That's up from figures released last month that the company had paid $125 million to settle 450 lawsuits.

News of the new settlements boosted Bayer's shares Friday, with stock prices up 4 percent at midday to 17.18 euros ($18.95).

The additional settlements were expected after Bayer won two U.S. court cases clearing it of liability earlier this year.

"This is good evidence that Bayer is making progress in resolving the issue," Merrill Lynch said in a note on Baycol, a view echoed by other analysts.

Bayer forecast double-digit operating profit growth in 2003 and said provisional first-quarter data indicates the operating profit will exceed the 840 million euros ($926 million) recorded during the same period last year.

Sales for the quarter were 7.3 billion euros ($8 billion), a nominal 4 percent increase from the same period a year earlier, according to preliminary figures.

An increase in operating profit this year is to be expected, as Bayer begins to benefit from last year's purchase of Aventis CropScience, making Bayer the world's second largest agrochemicals company after Syngenta.

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