ImageGerman pharmaceutical company Bayer AG said Thursday it will invest €100 million ($129 million) in a new global research and development center in Beijing over the next five years.

China is the third largest market worldwide for the Bayer group, and it will become the third country besides Germany and the U.S. to host such a center for its Bayer Schering Pharma unit.

"We are continuously increasing our presence in the Asia Pacific Region where China is our key growth driver," said Andreas Fibig, chairman of Bayer Schering Pharma's board of management, in a statement.

"Beijing will be an important site for our global innovative drug development."

Shares of Bayer, based in Leverkusen, were 1.6 percent higher at €43.90 in electronic premarket trading.