Bayer has named Werner Baumann as its new chairman of the management board, succeeding current chief executive Marijn Dekkers.

Baumann will retain his current role as head of strategy and portfolio management when he takes on the chairman position on May 1, much earlier than anticipated as Dekkers is now stepping down at the end of April instead of the end of the year.

“In Werner Baumann, Bayer has a strong and experienced management personality from within its own ranks,” Dekkers said, commenting on the appointment. “In his various positions at Bayer and as a member of the Board of Management since 2010, he has contributed substantially to strengthening and realigning the company”.

The news came just hours before Bayer unveiled that fourth-quarter sales from its healthcare arm leapt 8.6 percent to 5.8 billion euros compared to the year-ago period, having been given a helping hand by newly-launched products. This helped push a 12.4 percent rise in earnings before interest and tax and special items to 1.0 billion euros.

Bayer said full-year revenues booked by its healthcare subgroup rose 19.9 percent to 22.9 billion euros, as sales of pharmaceuticals products climbed 9.9 percent to 13.5 million euros.

Recently launched products - anticoagulant Xarelto (rivaroxaban), eye medicine Eylea (aflibercept), cancer drugs Stivarga (regorafenib) and Xofigo (radium-223 dichloride), and Adempas (riociguat)  to treat pulmonary hypertension - posted combined sales of 4.2 billion for the year.

Sales of the consumer health segment advanced by 5.1 percent to 9.1 billion euros, further pushing the healthcare segment’s overall earnings before special items up 19.8 percent to 6.4 billion euros.

Looking forward, Bayer said despite declining price developments in some areas, it expects sales of around 16 billion euros in the pharmaceuticals division, which corresponds to a mid-single-digit percentage increase on a currency- and portfolio-adjusted basis.