Merck sells salt plant in Lehrte to Schüssler Novachem

Having already bought the land on which Merck KGaA's salt plant in Lehrte, Germany, sits, salt maker Schüssler Novachem has now bought the production and laboratory equipment from the German drugmaker.

"We are glad to see that Schüssler will continue with their own chemical production at the Lehrte location," said Bernd Reckmann, CEO of chemicals for the Darmstadt-based company. Merck said Schüssler earlier picked up the land and buildings in Lehrte from Deutsche Bahn Immobilien in a separate transaction. The companies said they would not disclose the terms of their transaction and didn't say whether Schüssler took on any of Merck's employees.

"We are glad to see that Schüssler will continue with their own chemical production at the Lehrte location," said Reckmann.

The plant is one of the production facilities that Merck in 2012 said it would close as part of its plans to reorganize its business and cut 10% of its workforce, including about 1,100 production jobs. It has moved its salt business to Darmstadt. It closed a filling operations in Hohenbrunn, Germany, and a manufacturing facility in Coinsins in Switzerland.

But the company is building new facilities elsewhere to serve areas that it has decided have the greatest potential as well as expected growth in emerging markets. In December, it said Allergopharma unit will build a new €40 million ($55 million), 6,000-square-meter (64,600-square-foot) plant in Reinbek near Hamburg to make allergy meds for conditions like hay fever or allergic asthma as it expands into markets like China. Its Merck Serono unit is building a €80 million ($107.67 million), 40,000-square-meter (431,000-square-feet) plant in Shanghai to produce the diabetes drugs Glucophage, Concor and Euthyrox. Both plants are slated to be finished in 2016.

- here's the announcement