November 27, 2009 / 11:07 AM / 10 years ago

Bayer not ruling out large acquisitions - CEO

FRANKFURT, Nov 27 (Reuters) - German drugs and chemicals group Bayer (BAYGn.DE) is looking for acquisitions that could include a blockbuster deal, Chief Executive Werner Wenning said.

“We are not scared of this,” he told reporters on Thursday night in remarks embargoed for release on Friday, but he stressed that Bayer placed great store in sound finances.

“We are not going to be adventurous financially,” he said.

A major takeover would be a departure for Bayer, which has focused on small deals since its 2006 acquisition of German drugmaker Schering.

Bayer has been looking to fuel growth in its healthcare business via acquisitions. It is also eyeing the veterinary field, where it has failed so far to snatch up assets coming onto the market in the wake of large takeovers in the U.S. industry.

Wenning noted that more opportunities could arise in the veterinary segment. Bayer’s animal health business generated 2008 sales of 963 million euros ($1.44 billion).

Wenning said that Bayer, unlike many peers, saw no problems from patent expiries for major drugs between 2010 and 2012. The next big expiry is in 2014 for its Avalox antibiotic, which was Bayer’s fifth-biggest drug last year with sales of 462 million euros.

Others have less room to be sanguine about the loss of revenue as blockbuster products suddenly face competition from low-cost generic versions.

U.S. group Pfizer (PFE.N), for instance, generates around a quarter of its annual sales with cholestrol drug Lipitor, which will start to face U.S. generic competition in 2011. [ID:nN26367941]

Wenning reaffirmed Bayer’s goal to limit the decline in 2009 adjusted core profit to around 5 percent, a target he termed “very challenging”.

Its MaterialScience plastics business, hit hard by the global economic slump, has seen demand pick up since April, led by Asia. “We see a positive trend here,” he added.

But he cautioned against expecting a self-sustaining economic upswing, saying consumer demand in the United States first had to improve.

Wenning declined to comment on reports that Abu Dhabi investment vehicle International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) was interested in Bayer’s MaterialScience business.

Reporting by Frank Siebelt; Writing by Michael Shields

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