Merck KGaA lines up 370 new jobs with $470M manufacturing boost in Ireland

Germany’s Merck KGaA—fresh off its buyout of mRNA player Exelead—is throwing down almost half a billion dollars more to grow its manufacturing footprint on the Emerald Isle.

Merck KGaA will invest 440 million euros (about $469.3 million) to beef up membrane manufacturing capacity in Carrigtwohill and build a new filtration manufacturing plant at Blarney Business Park, both of which are in Cork, Ireland, the company said Monday.

The project is due to wrap up by the end of 2027 and will add 370 new jobs to the company's ranks in the country, Merck KGaA said. 

At Blarney Business Park, Merck KGaA is spending about 150 million euros on its new filtration manufacturing facility. The site, once up and running, will boost Merck KGaA’s global manufacturing capacity and support customers making both traditional and cutting-edge products, the company said.

Another 290 million euros will go toward the upgrade in Carrigtwohill, where the company is adding a facility for immersion casting of membranes. Those membranes will be used to support projects such as gene therapies and virus sterilization.

Last year, Merck KGaA plugged 36 million euros into the Carrigtwohill site to build out a second lateral flow membrane manufacturing product line. The facility has since officially opened its doors and cranks out lateral flow membranes that are often used in rapid diagnostic tests for rare diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and Ebola. The components are also used in antigen tests, such as those used to suss out COVID-19.

By 2025, Merck KGaA is angling to boost its sales to roughly 25 billion euros (about $26.7 billion). To meet that goal, it says it will “significantly” increase its total investments through the middle of the decade versus the period from 2016 to 2020. Last year, the company generated 19.7 billion euros ($20.5 billion) worldwide.

Currently, Merck KGaA is pumping a steady stream of cash into its manufacturing business, which includes products and technologies related to single-use solutions, highly potent drug ingredients and newer modalities like antibody-drug conjugates, plus viral and gene therapies.

Merck KGaA has operations in the contract manufacturing industry, pharmaceuticals, electronics, lab supplies and more.

The company hit the ground running this year with its $780 million takeover of CDMO Exelead, which was aimed at bolstering its position in the fast-growing mRNA therapy market. The deal closed in late February after its January reveal.

Over the coming five years, Merck KGaA says it will plot further investments in countries like Germany, China, France, Switzerland, Ireland and the U.S.

Despite the company's lofty manufacturing ambitions, world events could put a squeeze on Merck KGaA's financial outlook for the year, the company warned earlier this month.

Current economic and geopolitical circumstances—namely a renewed COVID-19 outbreak in China and Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine—have hamstrung global supply chains and prompted a spike in operational costs, Merck KGaA said in an earnings update. The company is taking steps to counter the disruptions and expects to pull down between 21.6 billion euros ($22.5 billion) and 22.8 billion euros ($23.75 billion) in sales this year. Still, the company's earnings forecast could fall victim to “increased uncertainty and volatility," the company cautioned.