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Merck Serono subsidiary launched

German pharmaceutical company, Merck KGaA, has officially launched Merck Serono (formerly Serono) after the successful closing of the share purchase agreement and the resolutions passed during the Extraordinary General Meeting of Serono

German pharmaceutical company, Merck KGaA, has officially launched Merck Serono (formerly Serono) after the successful closing of the share purchase agreement and the resolutions passed during the Extraordinary General Meeting of Serono.

Merck Serono will be managed as a subsidiary of Merck KGaA by a management team comprising Elmar Schnee, CEO of Merck Serono and member of the executive board of Merck KGaA; Olaf Klinger, CFO of Merck Serono; and Francois Naef, CAO of Merck Serono.

The board of directors was already elected at the Extraordinary General Meeting of Serono on 5 January 2007 and comprises Michael Becker (chairman); Peter Bohnenblust; Josef Dubacher; Carlo Lombardini; Elmar Schnee; Axel von Wietersheim; and Philippe Tischhauser.

Through 2007, Merck Serono will be combined with Merck Ethicals division and operate as the new Merck Serono division within the pharmaceuticals business arm of Merck KGaA. The headquarters will be in Geneva, Switzerland . The move will create a global supplier of biopharmaceutical products with 2005 sales of around EUR 3.6 billion and 14,500 employees globally, according to the company.

Special emphasis will be placed on the therapeutic areas of oncology, neurology and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Merck Serono will also have a presence in the infertility, metabolic endocrinology, type II diabetes and cardiovascular markets.

Globally, Merck Serono will operate under the new name and with a new logo, which will appear on buildings, letterhead and business cards. Pharmaceutical packaging will also carry the new design in the coming years. In the US , the business will operate under the name, EMD Serono.

Subject to clearance by the Swiss Takeover Board, Merck KGaA will make a public tender offer under Swiss law for remaining Merck Serono bearer shares in free float on 9 January 2007, which does not extend to the US .

Elmar Schnee, new CEO of Merck Serono, said: "With the combined power of two strong companies, we have the unique opportunity to create a superb union of pharmaceutical chemistry and biotechnology. We want to utilise the best of both companies. A total of 28 projects in clinical development, a combined R&D budget of approximately EUR 1 billion (GBP 670.1 million) and two key growth drivers, Erbitux (cetuximab) for oncology and Rebif (interferon beta 1-a) for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, give us the best foundations for a successful future."

Merck KGaA revealed it was also considering selling its generics drugs arm to help finance its acquisition of Swiss drug maker, Serono. Merck said in a statement that it was evaluating the divestiture of its generics division as one strategic option, but added that it was not in talks with any prospective buyer. Merck's shares rose on reports that the group's family shareholders had given the go-ahead for a possible sale of the business, which brings in annual sales of EUR 1.8 billion (GBP 1.2 billion) or 30 per cent of total group sales.

9th January 2007

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