LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY — Edelman has joined Bayer’s agency roster, the Holmes Report has learned, the latest change in the pharmaceutical and crop science giant’s global PR support.

Sources say Edelman has been hired in an advisory role, although a Bayer spokesperson who confirmed the company’s relationship with the world's largest PR firm would not elaborate on its remit.

The rep, however, did say that hiring Edelman is unrelated to Bayer’s suspension of FleishmanHillard for its creation of stakeholder mapping lists for longtime client Monsanto, which Bayer now owns.

“In communications and public affairs, Bayer collaborates with many agencies globally. Edelman is part of this network, FleishmanHillard not. The work Edelman is doing for Bayer doesn’t have anything to do with the termination of our relationship with FleishmanHillard in May,” the spokesperson said.

A legal review cleared FleishmanHillard of any wrongdoing, as did the German Council for Public Relations. The agency still works on Bayer’s product and brand communications, but its Monsanto-related work in communications, public affairs and sustainability has not been reinstated.

FleishmanHillard had served as Monsanto's PR agency for several years, and earlier this year was named one of Bayer Crop Science's three global agencies following the troubled $63bn acquisition of Monsanto. Bayer continues to work with the 'Partners in Innovation' team, which also includes Omnicom firm Porter Novelli and independent Global Prairie.

The high-profile fallout between Bayer and Fleishman started when French newspaper Le Monde and broadcaster France 24 filed complaints with prosecutors, claiming that Monsanto had broken data protection and privacy laws in multiple ways by compiling a list of individuals it sought to influence in 2016 — when Monsanto seeking to renew its authorization for glyphosate, the key ingredient in its controversial Roundup weed killer.

The subsequent legal review commissioned by Bayer concluded there was no evidence of illegal behaviour by FleishmanHillard in its creation and use of the stakeholder mapping lists. There was also no evidence that the lists were based on illegal ‘surveillance’ of individuals, as claimed by the media, the report said.

An Edelman representative directed request for comment to Bayer.