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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Bayer stresses continuity
Bayer's headquarters in Leverkusen
Bayer's Baycol remedy is no longer available anywhere
After weeks of hesitation, German chemical giant Bayer has announced it will not be selling its crisis-hit drug unit.

The unit had been seen as a candidate for a rapid fire-sale, after it was forced to withdraw Baycol/Lipobay, its top-selling anti-cholesterol remedy, over fears of fatal side-effects.

The firm has faced a barrage of lawsuits over Baycol.

In a further move to underline continuity, Bayer announced that it had picked Werner Wenning, its chief financial officer, to become its next chief executive.

Mr Wenning takes over in April next year.

'No sale'

Bayer said in a statement that its supervisory board approved a plan to set up separate companies to operate its healthcare and crop protection businesses but made it clear that the drugs business would not be sold.

Bayer chief executive Manfred Schneider
Bayer chief Manfred Schneider will step down in April
The company said the new structure would make it easier to enter strategic partnerships, but refused to contemplate the notion of taking a minority stake in any pharmaceuticals joint venture.

The decision represents the maintenance of the firm's hallowed "four-pillar" strategy, under which four diverse business streams are intended to hedge the firm against a slump in one area.

The strategy has come in for criticism from analysts, who say that it makes Bayer something close to a conglomerate - a deeply unfashionable type of business.

The announcement is the result of a review of Bayer's strategy in the wake of the costly withdrawal of Baycol, a series of profit warnings, and the disastrous performance of its shares in the past few weeks.

See also:

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