Bayer says debt reduction priority in crisis -paper

FRANKFURT, June 16 (Reuters) - The head of German chemicals company Bayer BAYG.DE said debt reduction and securing liquidity was taking precedence over acquisitions during the economic crisis, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday.

“Of course we keep our eyes open and examine options that make sense and are doable,” chief executive Werner Wenning was quoted as saying in an interview.

“But in times of uncertainty, as they are right now, debt reduction and preserving liquidity have a higher priority.”

Wenning said Bayer aimed to grow organically and has raised its research and development budget to a record level.

Asked whether Bayer was prepared to ward off any hostile takeover, he replied: “Of course we are prepared. But I do not see such dangers and I am sitting here very relaxed.”

He said business in Bayer’s material science division, whose clients are mainly from automotive, electronics and construction industries, have stabilised recently. He said the trough could have already been reached.

Material science is still part of Bayer’s core business even though sales and profits have fallen massively because of the economic crisis, he said. (Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Dan Lalor)