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German Merck has more takeover ideas -CEO in paper
FRANKFURT, March 7 |
FRANKFURT, March 7 (Reuters) - Germany's Merck KGaA (MRCG.DE) is eyeing further acquisitions following its agreed $6 billion cash purchase of U.S. biotech tool maker Millipore (MIL.N), Merck's chief executive told a German newspaper.
"We have indeed a few ideas. Acquisitions are a part of our strategy," Karl-Ludwig Kley told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview published on Sunday.
The German drugs-to-chemical hybrid bought Swiss biotech company Serono for 10.3 billion euros ($14 billion) in 2007 and unveiled the Millipore deal late last month in a move to diversify away from its embattled pharmaceuticals business. [ID:nLDE62007S]
It had also sought to acquire contraceptives specialist Schering in 2006, but was trumped by national rival Bayer (BAYGn.DE).
"And so it should continue," Kley said of Merck's takeover strategy, adding that he gave little credence to the view that takeovers were too expensive.
"We will show that we have paid an absolutely fair price for the American firm Millipore," he told the paper.
Merck makes the multiple sclerosis drug Rebif and owns the rights to cancer drug Erbitux in Europe but last year failed to win regulatory approval for the use of Erbitux against lung tumours, the most common form of cancer, and the prospects for U.S. approval of its experimental multiple sclerosis pill are uncertain. [ID:nGEE5AT1KS]
Its main cash cow, the liquid crystals unit -- the world's largest maker of chemicals for TV flat screens -- has seen a gradual slide in operating margins from about 50 percent for much of 2008 as Asian rivals emulate Merck's technology.
The deal to buy Millipore, which makes filters and purifiers for laboratory water and other materials used in making biotechnology drugs, is one of the largest transactions in Germany since the start of the financial crisis and has stoked expectations that a new merger wave is building. ($1=.7362 Euro) (Reporting by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)
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