When Werner Wenning retired on September 30, 2010 after nearly 45 years with Bayer and handed over to Dr. Marijn Dekkers as Chairman of the Board of Management, it marked the conclusion of an unusual career in a major German corporation – from trainee to CEO.
Werner Wenning, born in Leverkusen-Opladen on October 21, 1946, first joined Bayer as a commercial trainee. After completing his vocational training and a traineeship in finance and accounting, he was sent to the Peruvian capital, Lima, in 1970 to establish a finance department at the newly founded Bayer Industrial S.A. After five and a half years in South America, Wenning returned to Leverkusen to join the Corporate Auditing department. In 1978, he went back to Peru as Managing Director of the company he had previously helped to establish.
In 1983, Wenning was appointed head of the staff department of what was then the Health Care Sector in Leverkusen. Three years later he transferred to the Plastics Business Group as head of marketing for thermoplastics. Only a year after that, he assumed responsibility for this business group’s global marketing operations. Starting on April 1, 1991, he was seconded for a year to the “Treuhandanstalt,” the Berlin-based privatization agency that helped to rebuild the economy in eastern Germany following reunification.
In 1992, Wenning was appointed Managing Director of Bayer's largest company in Spain and Senior Bayer Representative for that country. Four years later, he returned to Leverkusen to become head of Corporate Planning and Controlling, before being appointed to the Board of Management on February 1, 1997 as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Bayer Representative for the Latin America, Africa and Middle East regions.
After the Annual Stockholders' Meeting on April 26, 2002, Wenning took over from Dr. Manfred Schneider as Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG.
During his time as CEO, Wenning integrated Aventis CropScience – at that time the biggest acquisition in the company's history – into the Bayer Group and gave Bayer a completely new structure comprising a strategic holding company, subgroups and service companies. Then followed the spin-off of Lanxess and the related decision to focus on the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. The action taken to streamline the portfolio and systematically align the Group towards innovation and growth was quickly successful. With the acquisition of Schering AG, Berlin, Germany, in 2006, Wenning then paved the way for expanding Bayer's health care business and strengthening its alignment toward specialty pharmaceuticals.
During the financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, it was important to Wenning not only to safeguard Bayer’s economic success but also to limit the potential consequences for the workforce and maintain the Group's innovative capability. The company's management and the Central Works Council agreed an employment pact, which specifies among other things that there will be no dismissals for operational reasons in Germany before the end of 2012. Research and development expenditures reached a new record under his leadership.
Werner Wenning succeeded Dr. Manfred Schneider as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Bayer AG on October 1. He is also Chairman of the Supervisory Board of E.ON AG, Düsseldorf as well as a member of the Shareholders' Committees of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, Düsseldorf, and Freudenberg & Co. KG, Weinheim. Wenning is a member of the Supervisory Boards of HDI V.a.G., Hannover; Talanx AG, Hannover; and Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt.
Wenning served as Vice President of the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), Frankfurt, for four years until September 2011 and as VCI President from September 2005 to September 2007. He was also Vice President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Berlin.
In December 2010, Wenning was appointed to the Board of Directors of German Bundesliga soccer club Bayer 04 and took over as Chairman.