Merck priority for 2009: Dealmaking

More deal news: Merck CEO Richard Clark (photo) pegs acquisitions as a priority for 2009. The company has the resources to make "whatever investments are needed," the exec told analysts and investors at a Goldman Sachs conference yesterday. Clark also said that "strategic opportunities"--including deals--are key for the year ahead, Dow Jones reports.

At the top of Clark's wish list, of course, is the same item that tops most Big Pharma lists: A biotech company that would boost Merck's revenue and beef up its pipeline.

Like Pfizer's Jeff Kindler, Clark cautioned investors not to expect instant action, however; Merck won't just go off half-cocked after any company that looks like a bargain. "It has to be financially smart," he said. But as Dow Jones points out, overeager dealmaking isn't exactly a big fear among Merck-watchers. The company has been talking about a strategic buyout for three years or more without actually making a deal.

The climate is markedly different, now, of course, than it was even six months ago. As we all know, scores of biotech companies are cash-strapped by the credit crunch, and stock prices are way down. So Clark may actually come through sooner than most people think.

- read the Dow Jones story at CNN Money

ALSO: Merck said equipment upgrades at its West Point plant would cause shortages of its hepatitis B vaccine for adults, but would not affect pediatric versions of the shot. Report

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