Merck KGaA to abstain from major deals until 2013

FRANKFURT, April 20 Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:17am EDT

FRANKFURT, April 20 (Reuters) - Germany's Merck KGaA will refrain from major takeovers until the end of next year to focus on cost cuts and job reduction, its Chief Executive said on Friday.

The maker of cancer drugs and high-tech chemicals for flat panel displays has said it plans to cut costs by an as yet unspecified amount through 2018 with a first phase running until end-2013 after a number of setbacks in its drug development pipeline.

"We do not plan to make any major acquisitions during this first phase of the programme. However, we will continue to strengthen our business through in-licensing or targeted acquisitions if the opportunities arise," CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley said, according to a prepared speech for Merck's annual shareholder meeting.

Overall cost cuts would be significant but the company would seek to cut jobs in Germany on a voluntary basis as far as possible, he added. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger)