German chemical and pharmaceutical group Bayer revealed last week that it plans to spin off its polymer business, MaterialScience, as a separate company.

Bayer wants to focus the remaining business entirely on human, animal and plant health.

The company explained that in recent years its center of gravity has shifted toward its Life Science activities, for example with the successful launch of novel pharmaceutical products, the pending acquisition of the over-the-counter products business of U.S.-based Merck & Co., Inc. and the development of the CropScience business.

The two Life Science businesses — HealthCare and CropScience — will be retained and Bayer hopes to continue developing these activities in the future. Life Science operations already account for about 70 percent of Bayer's sales and 88 percent of EBITDA before special items.

MaterialScience is planned to be floated on the stock market as a separate company within the next 12 to 18 months, giving the business better access to capital for its future growth.

"We firmly believe that MaterialScience will use its separate status to deploy its existing strength even more rapidly, effectively and flexibly in the global competitive arena," commented Bayer CEO Dr. Marijn Dekkers.

Bayer's HealthCare and CropScience businesses generated combined sales of approximately EUR29 billion ($37.4 billion) in 2013 and they have almost 99,000 employees around the world.

The MaterialScience business had sales of EUR11.2 billion ($14.4 billion) last year and after the split it will employ about 16,800 people worldwide.