Well... this is interesting. It seems that the CEO of one of the corporations that gave the world Zyklon B is under scrutiny and fire for his role in his corporation's buyout of the corporation that gave the world Agent Orange and Roundup with its carcinogenic and soil-nutrient-killing glyphosate; I.G. Farben meets Mon(ster)santo to become I.G. Farbensanto. And just in time, too, because we were being bombarded by the business schools and news that "bigger is better" and "economies of scale" and so on and so forth. Well, the last incarnation of I.G. Farben wasn't too pleasant, and its current manifestation appears to be little better. It is better in one major respect, and that is that in its current manifestation, I.G. Farbensanto can at least be taken to court and sued for the harm it is doing to people, and eventually I suppose, the harm it is doing the environment.
But there's a mystery here, and it prompts today's high octane speculation, based on the following article from Zero Hedge that many of you sent along this past week:
Normally I would not cite so much of an article, but here it is essential to do so, in order to highlight the strange mystery lying at the heart of the Bayer buy out of Mon(ster)santo:
Bayer, also known as IG Farben back in the day, survived World War II (which it helped fund for Hitler's war effort while recruiting a an army of slave workers), but it may not survive the worst acquisition in its history: the disastrous $63 billion purchase of Monsanto in 2018, which also brought over the infamous carcinogenic weed-killer Roundup, and with it countless lawsuits and legal charges.
And while the future of the iconic company which brought "cough medicine" Heroin to the world remains in question, as it is slowly been buried under an avalanche of lawsuits emerging from Monsanto's legacy misdeeds which have slammed its stock to 7 year lows...
Late on Friday, in what Bloomberg called a "stunning development" for the German drugs and chemicals company, a majority, or about 55% of shareholders, voted against absolving CEO Werner Baumann and other managers of responsibility for their actions in the Monsanto takeover last year. Though the result isn’t legally binding, it throws his future into question and prompted an immediate supervisory board session. Similar rejections have cost German CEOs their jobs.
“Mr. Baumann, what have you done with our stable company?,” said Joachim Kregel, a representative of German shareholders association SdK. In just two years, “the erstwhile pharma giant has mutated into a dwarf,” said Ingo Speich, chief of sustainability and corporate governance at Deka Investment.
Bayer Chairman Werner Wenning said the board is taking the vote “very seriously” and would “do everything to win back the trust of shareholders as quickly and completely as possible” adding that "we regret this exceedingly."
"Nevertheless, the voting results show that the stockholders’ meeting wanted to send a clear signal."
The vote, which took place at around 10 p.m. local time, capped a tumultuous meeting in Bonn, with investors berating Baumann, arguing with Wenning and demanding explanations for the erasure of some 35 billion euros ($39 billion) in market value since the deal.At the heart of the debate was whether Baumann, Wenning and other leaders properly assessed the legal risks of Roundup, the controversial weedkiller it acquired together with Monsanto, according to Bloomberg. (Boldface emphasis in the original, bold-italics emphasis added)
It's that last sentence that exposes the heart of the mystery, and that mystery has been hovering in the background ever since the buy-out occurred. We can sum up that mystery by putting it "country simple": why on earth did Bayer buy Mon(ster)santo in the first place, when the lawsuits pending against it were so numerous and potentially risky? What on earth possessed Bayer's executives not only to go through with the deal, but to pay cash for the headaches they bought themselves?
This question has not only troubled me ever since the acquisition was announced, but it has bothered others too. Catherine Austin Fitts and I have discussed it many times, both in her wrap up reports, and privately. I have discussed it with members of this website and with a few friends, and none of us can figure out what was going through the minds of Bayer's executives when they made this deal, for in the final analysis, it makes no sense.
If there is an answer to that question, it has to lie somewhere on the spectrum between "just plain stupidity" (perhaps mixed with a hefty bit of "corporate it-can't-happen-to-us-because-we're-good-and-smart-people hubris") to an admittedly high octane speculative scenario, which I advance here today for the first time: What if the whole thing was a deliberate act of sabotage of Bayer by agents provocateur carefully infiltrated into the company to influence its policy and direction? What if the whole thing was a part of some deliberate and wider "plan" of economic warfare between the USA and Germany, unloading an increasingly (and deservedly) unpopular American company on a German mega-corporation, and making the latter foot the bill for the lawsuits? All that money flows from Bayer and Germany into the USA to pay for lawyers, and lawsuit settlements, leaving the stockholders in Bonn rightfully asking the same questions we are: why on earth did they do the buy-out in the first place?
Of course, that scenario sounds nutty, and like I've run completely off the end of the High Octane Speculation twig once again. I freely acknowledge how nutty it sounds.
But consider: we're told over and over by Mr. Globaloney that the nation-state is obsolete, and that mega-transnational corporations are doing end runs around national sovereignty, and that the world should be run by these corporations. In effect, they are saying that these corporations are the "new sovereignties" in the world. If so, then it stands to reason that they will start doing what sovereign nations have always done: they will spy on each other, they will infiltrate long-term sleeper agents into each other's organizations as agents provocateur, and seek to influence their competition's policies and decisions to the detriment of their competition, and to the advantage of themselves. They will raise mercenary armies and do battle with each other; they will hire assassins, and do all the other covert things that sovereign nations have done and still do.If you don't believe me, just recall the first example of such behavior, when the bankers of the Rialto helped to manipulate the crisis that put an end to the 14th century Florentine "mega-companies". So perhaps, just perhaps, some major global competitor of Bayer infiltrated such agents provocateur into the very top echelon of that company's leadership, and that leadership in turn bought, or was advised to buy, Mon(ster)santo, effectively hanging a millstone around Bayer's neck, and taking much needed funds from its R & D and shoveling them into non-productive, non-competitive activities like defending against lawsuits... It's a stunningly efficient way to take out a competitor and use up its liquidity.
We'll know in good time, of course, whether that scenario is true or not, for I strongly suspect that those Bayer shareholders are going to demand an investigation, or conduct one of their own because they won't be in the mood to accept any explanations from the leadership that created the mess, and the precipitous drop in their share value.
And if that scenario to any degree should be born out by coming disclosures and investigations, then its a reminder of a general principle that my nutty scenario can apply to other corporations, and may rationalize corporate behavior that otherwise makes no sense from conventional analysis.
See you on the flip side...