* Merck cites market shifts, tough competition
* Says won't disclose yet how much it aims to save
* Shares down 1.7 percent
(Adds details, CEO comment, background)
FRANKFURT, Feb 24 German drugs and
chemicals group Merck KGaA announced plans on Friday
for a cost-cutting programme across all its businesses that may
include job cuts.
"Over the next two years Merck needs to address
unprecedented market shifts, increasing competition in key
product areas and existing inefficiencies in its own
organization to ensure the long-term success of its business
model," Chief Executive Karl-Ludwig Kley said in a statement.
The maker of drugs and liquid crystals used in flat screen
televisions did not say how much it aimed to save, how it
planned to cut costs or which businesses would be affected.
"We have a view on what needs to be achieved, but we will
consult with the employee representatives on a
country-by-country basis and we will consider any pragmatic
proposals," Kley said.
Merck shares were off 1.7 percent at 79.28 euros by 1600
GMT, while Germany's blue-chip index was up 0.6
The move comes after Merck pulled the plug on one of its
biggest pipeline drugs last year, saying U.S. drug regulators'
concerns about the risks of its cladribine pill will put an end
to any development or marketing plans for the multiple sclerosis
Merck has also brought in new management, hiring Lanxess's
finance chief Matthias Zachert to take over as chief
financial officer and Stefan Oschmann, an executive from U.S.
rival Merck & Co as the new head of its drugs division.
Merck is due to publish its full-year results on March 6.
After the first nine months of the year, Merck cut the top
end of its 2011 sales forecast after sluggish demand for
consumer electronics dimmed prospects for its liquid crystals
(Reporting By Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Hulmes and Greg