Hoecsht pushes merger

Pharmaceutical Representative

Hoecsht AG wants to complete its intended merger with Rhône-Poulenc S.A. sooner than previously planned, the company announced in late March.

Hoecsht AG wants to complete its intended merger with Rhône-Poulenc S.A. sooner than previously planned, the company announced in late March.

"We want to complete the merger this year," said Jurgen Dormann, Hoecsht's chief executive officer.

Previously, the full merger was scheduled to take place in two different steps: combining the life science activities of the two companies and then divesting the chemical activities of both companies. According to Hoechst, shareholders will be asked to approve the full merger in a general meeting in June or July.

"The preparations for the integration of both companies are developing well; a faster merger will thus be more transparent," Dormann said.

Unlike other companies that attempted mergers last year, Hoechst and Rhône-Poulenc have apparently been able to agree on key issues such as management and executive plans. More than 600 management appointments for the new company, Aventis, have been made already, the companies announced, and the executive committee for Rhône-Poulenc has been formed.

If the merger goes ahead as planned, Aventis will secure a spot as the second largest pharmaceutical company behind Merck. With anticipated annual sales of $20 billion, the company will claim a robust pipeline, a strong marketing presence and impressive research and development resources.

Hoechst Marion Roussel, in particular, may help the future Aventis fatten its bottom line. Although its operating profits declined by roughly 10% last year because of restructuring charges, Hoechst said it expects the division's operating profits to contribute to double-digit growth in the life science businesses as a result of higher sales and earning contributions of new products and the absence of restructuring charges. PR