Merck chief makes the most of merger news

Maybe Merck CEO Dick Clark learned something about PR from Sanofi-Aventis chief Chris Viehbacher. Like Viehbacher last weekend, Clark gave interviews to several news outlets yesterday, dispensing a different bit of news to each. That way, he'll get headlines not only today--with the original interview reports--but tomorrow, as reporters follow each other's merger-related scoops. We're here to take part, too, by rounding up all the Merck chief's pronouncements in one handy-dandy package.

The news we're most interested in relates to a.) the job cuts promised when the Schering-Plough merger went public, and b.) facility plans. (We'll let FierceBiotech tell you more about Clark's plans for biotech acquisitions.)

Unfortunately, Clark didn't reveal much detail about his plan to shed some 16,000 workers. He told Dow Jones that the cuts won't come within the next couple of days; indeed, the specific plans aren't finalized yet. "We want to make the right decisions with talent," Clark told the news service, adding that Merck plans to retain a "substantial majority" of Schering's staff.

Meanwhile, Clark told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Pennsylvania's Montgomery County would probably survive the layoffs intact. The company's vaccine plant in West Point and its R&D facilities in Upper Gwynedd Township are key to the company's future, he told the paper, saying that he would be unlikely to cut jobs in either spot. In fact, the region might gain some jobs as facilities elsewhere are consolidated there.

A few more hard facts on the new Merck's facilities: Clark told Bloomberg that he plans to keep Schering-Plough's Kenilworth, NJ, headquarters. Research ops in Rahway, NJ, will also "continue to be important," he said. That's good news for New Jersey; as the Star-Ledger points out, the new Merck has some 14,000 employees in the state.

- see the Dow Jones piece
- check out the news from Bloomberg
- get more from the Star-Ledger
- read the Inquirer story

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