LEVERKUSEN, Germany - Bayer's outgoing finance chief said the German drugs-to-chemicals company would not put its current credit rating at risk even if it launched a multi-billion euro takeover.
We will maintain our single-'A' rating, Chief Financial Officer Klaus Kuehn told Reuters on the sidelines of Bayer's press conference on full-year results on Friday.
Kuehn will be replaced by Werner Baumann, currently a top executive at Bayer's healthcare division, in May.
Chief Executive Werner Wenning, also set to leave as part of a management overhaul, has repeatedly said in interviews that the company is training its sights on healthcare companies to strengthen Bayer's drugs division.
Even deals worth billions of euros, on the scale of the 17 billion euro ($23.10 billion) takeover of rival Schering in 2006, could be financed, he was quoted as saying.
As in most cases, debt financing would have to be exhausted before a capital increase is considered, CFO Kuehn said on Friday, adding that disposals could also come into play.
Asked about a possible sale of Bayer's veterinary drugs business, Kuehn said: There's a wide range of options we have to look into.
Bayer last year tried to bolster that unit, but failed to snatch up animal health businesses that were offered as part of Wyeth's merger with Pfizer and the tie-up between Merck & C and Schering-Plough.
Buying assets to strengthen the animal health unit was also still on the cards, he added.
We're facing fewer competitors now than before, and also bigger ones. There will be disposals due to antitrust concerns. We'll have to look into that, the finance chief said.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Frank Siebelt; Editing by Rupert Winchester)