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Bayer closing Pittsburgh operations to consolidate company

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
Bayer AG is shutting down its Robinson Campus operations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Germany-based company will execute the planned shutdown over the next two years and about 600 workers will lose their jobs.

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In a statement, the company said, “with the acquisition of Monsanto completed last year, we doubled the size of our business in the United States to more than $16 billion in sales, and we now employ more than 20,000 people in 300 locations across the country.

“As part of the work to bring our companies together and significantly improve productivity and profitability, Bayer announced in November 2018 that it will reduce 12,000 jobs globally by 2021.”

A Bayer spokesperson told HCB News that Bayer’s Radiology business is not impacted at their O’Hara Township, Saxonburg and Indianola, Pittsburgh locations, and, with 1,300 employees, Bayer will still have a strong presence in the area.

The company plans call for “consolidating administrative functions to best support our agriculture business, which is headquartered in St. Louis, and our healthcare businesses, which are headquartered in Whippany, N.J.”

A first step is the closing of the Pennsylvania administrative site. The jobs impacted will include 569 positions and 96 contractors.

“This is certainly a difficult decision, given the impact it will have on our colleagues and their families, and the important role the site has played in our company’s history,” said the company statement, adding that the closing will happen “in a thoughtful, orderly manner.”

Local officials were blindsided by the move.

“We’re shocked. We did not see this coming at all,” said Robinson Township Manager Frank L. Piccolino, according to TribLive, adding, “We feel bad for the families who worked there.”

Still, local officials expressed support for Bayer. Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Stefani Pashman told the local news site, “Bayer’s direct influence on our economy, as well as on our quality of life through its corporate social responsibility, spanned generations,” she noted, adding, “Bayer helped to pin Pittsburgh on the global map.”

The future may hold hope for laid-off workers, however, thanks to a strong local economy. Airport Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Chris Heck told TribLive that, “those jobs can easily be absorbed by the companies that are out here.”

Former Bayer CEO Attila Molnar, who retired in 2008, had noted that Pittsburgh was the “home and the hub of Bayer’s success in North America,” according to the news site, writing that, “Pittsburgh also is a city that has provided our employees – the source of every Bayer achievement – with an incomparable sense of community.”

For many years Pittsburgh had been the location of Bayer's North American headquarters, which moved to New Jersey in 2012, according to the Associated Press. The positions being cut include those in finance, accounting, legal and technology, according to the news agency.

Bayer closed its Monsanto acquisition in June 2018. At that time, Monsanto shareholders were paid $128 per share.

Chairman of the Bayer board of management, Werner Baumann, said in a statement at that time that, “our sustainability targets are as important to us as our financial targets. We aim to live up to the heightened responsibility that a leadership position in agriculture entails, and to deepen our dialogue with society.”

EDIT: This story was updated on 1/17/19 to clarify that Bayer’s Radiology business is not impacted at their O’Hara Township, Saxonburg and Indianola, Pittsburgh locations, and, with 1,300 employees, Bayer will still have a strong presence in the area.

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