Oschmann named as chief of Germany’s revamped Merck

German pharma company Merck has unveiled its CEO-designate, along with a new corporate image.

Stefan Oschmann has been named as the new chairman of the executive board and CEO of Merck KGaA, and will take over from April 2016.

Stefan Oschmann

The company has been transformed under its soon-to-retire current chief executive Karl-Ludwig Kley, who has overseen €38 billion in acquisition spending in his nine years in charge.

To mark the transition, the firm has also unveiled a new corporate image and logo, and will now be simply known as Merck outside the US.

The Darmstadt-based firm will now drop its Merck Serono and Merck Millipore brands, and these divisions will be known as Merck’s biopharmaceutical business and life sciences division, respectively.

Merck acquired biotech firm Serono in 2006 for €10.4 billion and R&D technologies and services giant Millipore for €5.3 billion ($7.2 billion) in 2010.

The company is in the process of completing another mega-merger in the R&D services field, spending €13.1 billion ($17 billion) on acquiring Sigma Aldrich.

The firm’s biggest prescription medicines business accounted for just under half of its €11.5 billion revenues in 2014, with multiple sclerosis treatment Rebif its biggest seller.

However Rebif faces declining sales as new oral treatments gain market share. The company’s fastest-growing treatment is cancer treatment Erbitux, which now earns more than $1 billion a year.

The company has a promising prospect through its alliance in immuno-oncology with Pfizer. The firms are developing an anti-PD-L1 compound avelumab, which has just received a Fast Track designation for metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare and aggressive type of skin cancer.

The company also has leading market positions in process solutions for the biotech industry and liquid crystal displays for TVs and monitors.

58-year-old Oschmann has been a member of the Merck board since 2011. He was initially in charge of the pharma business before being appointed deputy chairman of the board and deputy CEO at the beginning of 2015, responsible for strategy and innovation.

Baillou credits Stefan Oschmann with “strategic foresight and strong leadership” and says he has helped to turn Merck into a respected player in the pharma industry again.

The firm can trace its roots back 350 years, and the Merck family still have a majority holding in the group. The firm was split in two when the American government seized its US assets during the First World War, and subsequently established Merck Inc as an independent US corporation.

To avoid confusion, the US company is known as Merck Sharp & Dohme outside the US and Canada, and the German firm’s new names for its US operations will be known as EMD Serono and EMD Performance Materials.

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