Sources: Bayer close to naming new CEO and Werner Baumann is expected to be the choice

Werner Baumann

It will be another 10 months before Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers is ready to walk out the door, but the German drugmaker may be pretty close to saying who will walk in behind him. Reports indicate the company may announce his replacement as early as next week and that Werner Baumann is expected to be the pick.

Sources confirmed to the Financial Times that Baumann was the frontrunner after Germany's Management magazine said Baumann would be taking over in 2017. Bayer declined to comment to the newspaper.

The 53-year-old Baumann certainly has gotten lots of the prerequisite training in his 28 years at the company. He is a German national but spent time in Spain and then in the U.S. before returning to Germany to hold a variety of jobs, including Bayer CFO. When Dekkers gave his notice way back in 2014, Baumann was made chief strategy and portfolio officer, to "ensure continuity in key aspects of Bayer's future development," suggesting he was being groomed for the changeover.

Recently its was Baumann's name that was bandied about as being the person to expect to do potential big M&A deals for Bayer in the next few years, such as a possible buyout of animal health leader Zoetis ($ZTS) or snapping up Pfizer's ($PFE) consumer health business if that comes on the market. He and Johannes Dietsch, who took Baumann's role as CFO, were "the driving force" behind last year's $14.2 billion deal for Merck's ($MRK) consumer health unit, sources said.

Dekkers gave his very long notice in 2014. As his first 5-year contract was coming to a close, he asked the Bayer board if it would grant him just a two-year extension through 2016. He cited family reasons for shortening his contract and has since mentioned that he has children headed to the U.S. to go to college and wants more flexibility in his life.

Dekkers has lots of ties to the U.S., having spent 25 years working in the States before joining Bayer in early 2010. He brought with him some of the faster decision-making methods he had learned during his long stint in the U.S. With that he has remade the Leverkusen-based company, selling its plastics business in 2015 and focusing Bayer on life sciences. The year before, Bayer had pulled off the $14.2 billion buyout of Merck & Co.'s consumer health business, which has strengthened its healthcare focus and helped to drive earnings.

- read the Financial Times story (sub. req.)

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