Merck KGaA aims to expand in Africa, chairman says

Merck KGaA will have a new Africa strategy within six months, Chairman Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp said in Johannesburg. The company wants to grow in Africa, probably using South Africa as a sales springboard, but without beefing up production in the region. The new Africa strategy is part of an overall honing of its emerging-markets approach.

"We are refocusing our strategy in terms of BRICS countries, and also our total Africa strategy," Stangenberg-Haverkamp said, according to BusinessDay. The chairman added that South Africa is Merck's focal point for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. It doesn't plan to make South Africa a production hub, however. "To set up a biotech business in SA would be impossible--it's difficult enough to find qualified people in Switzerland," he said.

Nor does the German Merck intend to open sales offices or other branches outside South Africa to build its regional presence.  "We want to penetrate other African markets," he said, "but do not want to open further representative offices or branches. We will try to cover these other markets from our offices in [South Africa]." The company now employs 300 at its diabetes-drug production facilities in the country, and maintains offices in Cape Town and Durban.

- read the BusinessDay piece