By Helena Smolak

Bayer plans to keep cutting jobs after it shed about 1,000 management positions in the first quarter as part of a push to run the group with fewer bosses.

Bayer's Chief Executive Bill Anderson outlined in January an internal restructuring that streamlines departments and replaces hierarchical levels with autonomous teams.

The German pharmaceutical-to-agricultural company earlier this year resisted calls for a breakup from some of its shareholders and outlined a plan that aims to bring down debt, strengthen its pharma business and address legal cases over weedkiller Roundup under its current structure.

"In the first quarter alone, we cut 1,500 jobs, around two thirds at management level," Anderson said at a press conference. The total number of jobs shed in the quarter represent about 1.5% of the group's workforce.

Bayer ended March with a staff of about 98,000, of which around 17,000 have personnel responsibility.

The company didn't specify the number of additional positions it will cut throughout the year. The company expects to achieve 500 million euros ($539.5 million) in savings this year, which will rise to EUR2 billion in 2026.

At 1241 GMT on Tuesday, shares in Bayer traded 3.1% higher at EUR30.28.

For the first quarter, the company reported a drop in net profit due to lower sales across all segments and said its results were hit by currency headwinds.

Bayer posted a first-quarter net profit of EUR2 billion, down from EUR2.18 billion the previous year but above analysts' forecasts of EUR1.73 billion, according to consensus estimates provided by Vara Research.

While the company's results show Anderson seems to be making progress on his strategy and earnings were better than expected, currency movements will likely result in a bigger hit this year than previously anticipated, analysts at Deutsche Bank said in a note.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization adjusted for special items declined to EUR4.41 billion from EUR4.47 billion, Bayer said.

Sales declined 4.3% to EUR13.77 billion due to less demand across its pharmaceuticals, consumer health and crop science segments, missing a consensus forecast of EUR14.08 billion.

Net debt at the end of the quarter stood at EUR37.49 billion, up 8.7% from the three months earlier, the company said.

The company backed its currency-adjusted 2024 guidance.

Write to Helena Smolak at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

05-14-24 0921ET