Tuesday 21 November 2017

Bayer riding high but so is its share price

Dr John Lynch

SOME special companies tell a tale that defines their countries of origin and the eras in which they prospered. The German chemical firm, Bayer, is unquestionably one of them.

Its rise to industrial greatness at the start of the 20th Century, its dismemberment in the wake of World War I, its powerful recovery in the Hitler years, its second dismemberment after 1945 and the part it played in the West German post-war boom, exactly mirrors the history of the German state. And, as Germany reasserts itself in the industrial world in the second decade of the 21st Century, Bayer is once again imposing its global footprint.

Founded in 1863, Bayer was originally a dye-maker but, by the end of the century, it had developed a chemical product called Aspirin, soon to become the 'drug of the century'. Bayer established subsidiaries in Russia, France, Belgium, the UK and United States long before the Great War changed everything. German defeat in 1918 meant that its overseas subsidiaries were expropriated and assets, patents and trademarks (including Aspirin) were confiscated.

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