Bayer Names Outsider Wolfgang Nickl as CFO

The German company is turning to an executive with U.S. corporate experience as it moves forward with its acquisition of Monsanto.
Matthew HellerSeptember 13, 2017

Bayer AG usually promotes from within to fill its CFO position. But with the completion of its mega-merger with Monsanto looming, it is turning to an outsider with U.S. corporate experience.

The German life sciences company announced Tuesday that Wolfgang Nickl, 48, a native of Germany, will succeed Johannes Dietsch as CFO in June, after his contract as finance chief at Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML runs out.

Nickl has an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and, in the U.S., served as CFO of IT company Converge and then of Western Digital before joining ASML in December 2013.

How Startup CFO Grew Food Company 50% YoY

How Startup CFO Grew Food Company 50% YoY

This case study of JonnyPops’ success highlights the unusual financial and operational strategies that enabled rapid expansion into a crowded and highly competitive frozen treat market. 

“In Wolfgang Nickl, we are pleased to have found a successful manager with a proven track record in the field of finance and many years of experience abroad,” Werner Wenning, chairman of Bayer’s supervisory board, said in a news release.

Nickl’s responsibilities at Bayer will include the integration of St. Louis-based Monsanto. The European Union has broadened its investigation into the $66 billion merger, but both companies have said they still expect the deal to close at the end of this year.

“A large part of the financing is not finalized yet,” Markus Mayer, an analyst at Baader Bank AG, told The Wall Street Journal, adding that Bayer could issue bonds valued up to $38 billion to finance the deal.

The German publication Handelsblatt said Nickl’s appointment was notable in part because the CFO position has traditionally been reserved for aspiring managers from within Bayer’s own ranks. CEO Werner Baumann, for example, served as finance chief until 2012 after working his way up the corporate ladder.

Baumann’s predecessor as CFO was Wenning, who started out at Bayer as an apprentice.

Nickl’s current employer supplies lithography systems for the semiconductor industry. “We highly appreciate Wolfgang’s contribution to ASML’s growth and development over recent years, and we looked forward to many more years of working together,” ASML Chief Executive Peter Wennink said. “Yet we also appreciate that Bayer offers Wolfgang a significant opportunity and we wish him and Bayer all the best.”