Bayer to Cut Covestro Stake, Keep Majority

01.03.2017 -

As it seeks to free funds for its planned $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto, Bayer is in the process of reducing its remaining stake in engineering plastics producer Covestro. While it plans to retain the majority of shares for the present, the Leverkusen, Germany-based chemical and life science giant said a “full separation” from its former plastics subgroup is planned to be achieved “in the coming years.”

Bayer currently holds a share of just over 64% in Covestro after floating a first tranche in 2015.

The group said it initiated an accelerated bookbuilding process after the close of trading in Frankfurt on Feb. 28, with pricing and allocation of the shares scheduled for today, March 1. It added that it has asked the banks supporting the transaction, Deutsche Bank and UBS, not to sell any additional shares in Covestro over the next 90 days.

Explaining the move on which it had declined comment during press and analyst conferences last week, Bayer said that since the 2015 listing, the market value of the former Bayer MaterialScience has increased “tangibly.” This, coupled with the favorable market environment, offers it the chance to draw down its holding in the company.

Stock market reports said the Covestro share price hit a record high of €73.27 last week, more than three times the initial offer price of €24. Ahead of the original flotation, the price had to be reduced, due to the shaky state of the stock market.

Management did not specify how many shares it planned to include in the offering but said more details would be provided when the papers are placed. News agency sources said the offering was worth around €1.5 billion.