The merck group, based in darmstadt, germany, is determined to complete its planned billion-euro acquisition of the u.S. Semiconductor supplier versum.
At the presentation of the 2018 financial statements, ceo stefan oschmann expressed confidence that merck would prevail against an offer from the american specialty chemicals group entegris. "Our offer of 48 dollars per versum share is superior," he said on thursday. From the point of view of everyone involved — employees, customers and shareholders — versum is "in the best hands" at merck. They stand "100 percent" by the suggestion.
Merck recently offered a surprising 5.2 billion euros in cash for versum. Semiconductor supplier to strengthen darmstadter’s flagging business with specialty chemicals. However, versum had already agreed with entegris in january on a merger by share swap and rejected merck’s offer. The germans then tried to win over versum shareholders in an open letter.
In day-to-day business, merck wants to return to growth after a difficult year in 2018. Supported by the pharmaceutical and laboratory business, sales are expected to rise moderately this year on the company’s own strength. Merck expects significant growth in adjusted operating profit despite charges from acquisitions. Shareholders to receive unchanged dividend of 1.25 euros per share for 2018.
Last year, merck was forced to sell its over-the-counter medicines such as nasal sprays to the consumer goods group procter& gamble saved the balance sheet. The darmstadter had parted with the business for 3.4 billion euros to concentrate on the expensive development of cancer therapies. Profits rose by almost 30 percent to 3.37 billion euros in the space of a year.
In the day-to-day business, on the other hand. Merck again struggled with asian competition in flux crystals, for example for smartphone and tv displays. At least things went better in the second half of the year, as customers in china bought more goods for television production. "2018 was a year of transition and investment," said oschmann.
Although sales climbed slightly to 14.8 billion euro. However, strong perception effects pushed operating profit, adjusted for special effects, up by almost 11 percent to 3.8 billion euros. Merck suffered above all from a weaker dollar against the euro and the strong devaluation of the argentine peso.
Even a strong increase in sales in the fourth quarter could no longer save the balance sheet. Merck again benefited from good performance of its laboratory division with products for pharmaceutical research. The pharmaceuticals division with drugs for infertility, for example, also grew. In addition, sales of new drugs for multiple sclerosis (mavenclad) and cancer (bavencio), which were still at a low level, skyrocketed.
Things went worse in the specialty chemicals business, which merck wants to focus more strongly on semiconductors for the electronics industry with versum. Demand for organic oled light-emitting diodes increased, but the weak auto market slowed down business in pigments for coatings. In the division, however, the "bottom has been reached," oschmann said.