On the whole, 2010 was an eventful and a very good business year for Merck. We pursued the Merck Way, which is based on the principles of “Sustain. Change. Grow.” and were successful in doing so.
Merck acquired Millipore, a life science company based in the United States. On February 28, Merck announced the EUR 5.1 billion transaction. The legal closing of the transaction took place on July 14. The new organization, which was merged with parts of the former Performance & Life Science Chemicals division, started operating under its new brand identity on January 1, 2011. Merck Executive Board Chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley said, “By combining Millipore’s bioscience and bioprocess knowledge with our own expertise in serving life science customers, we will be able to unlock value in our chemicals business.” Analysts also view the acquisition as a good strategic move.
The confidence of the financial markets was reflected by the successful issue of an euro bond to finance the Millipore acquisition. The EUR 3.2 billion bond was the largest issue by a German company in Europe in 2010 and was conducted in multiple tranches in a rather difficult market environment.
China is a market of the future for Merck. In 2010, Merck strongly expanded its presence in China. Around 2,000 employees contributed to a sales increase of more than 30%. In Beijing, we set up an R&D center in order to coordinate clinical trials locally. More than 200 highly qualified positions will be created.
Merck experienced both highs and lows with the regulatory review of its new multiple sclerosis treatment cladribine: Approvals in Russia and Australia, resubmission in the United States, a final negative opinion on the marketing authorization application from the European Medicines Agency. Regulators in the United States will decide on this drug in the first quarter of 2011.
Merck is a pioneer in LED and OLED development. To strengthen our position, we opened the new Material Research Center at the Darmstadt site. Merck invested EUR 50 million in the center. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, attended the inauguration on September 23. The world’s largest OLED display – with a surface area of nearly nine square meters – is located in the foyer of the main building.
A future-oriented cooperation agreement with Sanofi-Aventis was announced on December 17. The agreement involves a global research and development collaboration in oncology. The goal is to research new, experimental combinations of agents that could block specific signaling pathways in cancer cells. Merck hopes the collaboration will lead to new, targeted cancer therapies with high therapeutic potential.