* Merck agrees to keep 486 of 1000 R&D jobs in Netherlands
* Merck's Dutch R&D unit to broaden focus
AMSTERDAM, April 7 (Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co. (MRK.N), which last year said it would close three research sites in the Netherlands, on Thursday said it would keep about half of the research and development jobs.
Merck announced plans in July to shut eight research sites in total, including three in the Netherlands, as part of a restructuring following its merger with Schering-Plough. It had said it would cut up to 15,000 jobs worldwide and save up to $3.5 billion by 2012. [ID:nLDE6810AB]
Employees at the Dutch unit, formerly called Organon, tried to block the closures and Merck agreed it would would look at other solutions including the sale of the unit.
But in mid-February it said it had been unable to sell the bioscience unit or find an alternative solution to avoid closing down the unit. [ID:nLDE71F0GQ]
Organon said on Thursday that Merck has now agreed to keep 486 of the 1000 research and development jobs in the Netherlands, and to set up a new Dutch research centre focused on supporting all of Merck's therapeutic areas as well as emerging economies. (Reporting by Roberta B. Cowan; Editing by Sara Webb)