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Bayer confirms 2024 outlook despite slow start for agriculture, consumer health units

By Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Bayer confirmed its full-year forecast for earnings and cash flow on Monday despite slow business at its crop science and consumer health divisions.

"Our Crop Science and Consumer Health divisions expect a slow start to the year due to market dynamics, but we feel confident in our full-year targets and the direction of our businesses," CEO Bill Anderson said in his speech for the April 26 annual general meeting (AGM), which was posted on the company's website on Monday.

The CEO reiterated that 2024 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), adjusted for one-off items and currency swings, would decline between 3% and 9% and that free cash flow would reach 2-3 billion euros ($2.1-$3.2 billion) up from 1.3 billion last year.

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Anderson will face investor question at the AGM over his decision in March to pause plans to break apart the German diversified group, which includes a large pharmaceuticals business, for up to three years. He has said he would instead focus on a management overhaul, debt reduction and fending off litigation.

Major Bayer shareholder Harris Associates has told Reuters it strongly supports the decision to suspend work on breaking up the group.

($1 = 0.9392 euro)

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Bill Berkrot)