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Bayer Is Looking To Buy

Joerg Ohle, president and general manager of Bayer HealthCares North American animal health division, is on alert for opportunities in the animal health industry.

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Joerg Ohle is on alert for opportunities in the animal health industry.

“We want to acquire businesses,” said Ohle, president and general manager of Bayer HealthCare’s North American animal health division.
 
Pfizer’s blockbuster takeover of Wyeth in a pending $68 billion deal offers the latest example of the ongoing consolidation and change. The combined company is expected to jettison overlapping divisions, including some animal health operations.
 
While he did not want to talk about any specific possible transactions, Ohle made it clear that Bayer is closely monitoring the Pfizer-Wyeth deal. His company remains ready to snap up the right business, whether it is a castaway from a larger corporation or a smaller startup with promising technology.
 
“I do expect there will be some pieces that come for sale,” Ohle said. “We definitely will look and see if these pieces are of interest to us.”
 
Ohle hasn’t just been busy seeking new technology, new products and new acquisitions for his own Shawnee-based company. In the nearly five years since he arrived in the Kansas City area, he has emerged as an increasingly influential regional leader.
 
Ohle led a drive to capitalize on the region’s heritage as a hub for livestock production and agriculture.
 
In a career at Bayer stretching more than 30 years and taking him to posts in El Salvador, East Africa, Germany, Chile and Singapore, Ohle had never seen such a cluster of companies making medicine, food and other products for pets and livestock.
 
In a territory extending from Manhattan to Columbia and up to St. Joseph, more than 125 businesses employing about 5,000 workers in these fields bring in about $4.3 billion, or around 30 percent, of the $14.2 billion in global animal health sales.
 
The region that has since been branded as the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor has the largest single concentration of these companies in the world, said Ohle, who also serves as the corridor initiative’s chairman.
 
Raising awareness about potential business partners, a skilled work force and area universities with extensive animal health research expertise has helped attract even more companies in the industry.
 
“We have gotten some tremendous national publicity because of the animal health corridor,” said Bob Marcusse, CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. “We have for a long time had a critical mass of animal health assets, but it took Joerg Ohle and others to really understand what we could do with those assets.”
 
Successes include the relocation from San Diego of Synbiotics Corp., Anoxa Corp.’s move from New York to Lawrence and, most notable of all, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to build a $650 biodefense laboratory in Manhattan.
 
“In the next couple of months, there likely will be two additional announcements by animal health companies,” Marcusse said.
 
As a corridor leader, Ohle is setting a strong example with Bayer.
 
Bayer is a German-based corporation with some $44 billion in 2008 sales from pharmaceuticals, medical systems, animal health medicine, insecticides and other products. The animal health unit accounted for more than $1 billion of those sales with its flea- and tick-control products and other medicine for pets and livestock.
 
The work force of the animal health unit of Bayer alone has grown nearly 20 percent since Ohle’s arrival, rising from 529 to 631 employees. The company has invested more than $33 million in expansion and other projects at its site along Shawnee Mission Parkway near Pflumm Road.
 
By Jason Gertzen
 
Source: The Kansas City Star