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Cary set to become Bayer’s environmental science headquarters as company seeks buyer

Zachery Eanes
·3 min read

Bayer employees based in Cary could be joining a new company soon.

That’s because Bayer, the German crop science giant, said in February that it will divest from its Cary-based environmental science professional business, which essentially means it will sell that part of the company to a new owner.

Bayer said the divestment will allow the company to focus fully on its crop sciences business going forward.

The move means that Cary, which is home to around 200 Bayer employees, will soon become the official headquarters of the environmental science business. That division focuses on things like pest control and golf course management. In 2019, it generated more than $719 million in sales.

As part of the decision to divest, Bayer appointed Gilles Galliou, head of commercial operations for Bayer Vegetable Seeds Americas, to lead the transition.

In an interview, Galliou said Bayer has not yet found an owner but hopes to find one in 12 to 18 months.

“The preferred option — the one we are looking at right now — is divestment, which means that we will have a new owner at some time,” Galliou. “And that decision ... is not yet taken and we’re just at the beginning of the process.”

He added that the environmental science business deserves continued investment. Around 50% of the environmental science business is in the U.S., Gailliou added, making the Cary office well situated for the business.

“We are the leader in these businesses, and therefore we deserve investing and growing,” he said. “Not being at the center of the strategy, we would be better placed somewhere else. That has been the driver for us to be looking at starting that type of process.”

Galliou said an unspecified number of positions will transition from France to North Carolina.

The environmental science group will remain strong in the area going forward, though its future plans likely won’t be settled until it gets a new owner, Galliou said.

“We’re very engaged in in the in the community and with the universities,” he said. “We will continue to do that, and we will be a partner in the area as we grow.”

Job changes at Bayer

The divestment of the environmental science business comes after Bayer already had moved many of its Triangle-based jobs to St. Louis following its acquisition of rival Monsanto.

Bayer, which once had a headcount of around 1,000 employees in Research Triangle Park, completed its purchase of Monsanto in 2018. Many of those jobs went to Missouri or have been acquired by rivals.

The environmental science group used to be based in Research Triangle Park as well. But it moved to Cary after Bayer sold much of its holdings in RTP to BASF, which bought Bayer’s seed and herbicide businesses. BASF took on 300 of Bayer’s employees as part of that deal.

Galliou also will be moving to Cary from France in the near future. It’s a return of sorts for Galliou, who previously was based in the Cary office.

“It will be relatively easy to adjust to the area. I did it 10, 11 years ago, and it brought me to become a U.S. citizen,” Galliou said, adding he has family in the area. “I really love the area, and it is a very international place, and I think the people coming from outside will find it exciting.”

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more.