Shareholders Approve Merck/Schering-Plough Merger

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WHITEHOUSE STATION – Shareholders approved drugmaker Merck & Co.’s acquisition of Schering-Plough Corp. last week.

A spokesperson said that 99.6 percent of the votes cast by Merck shareholders on Aug. 7 supported the $41.1 billion deal. Schering-Plough stockholders also approved the deal almost unanimously, with about 99.1 percent of votes cast in favor of the plan.

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The merger would make Merck the second-largest drugmaker by prescription medicine sales, trailing only Pfizer Inc.

The deal still needs approval from the Federal Trade Commission and foreign regulators. It is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter.

The new company plans to eliminate approximately 15,000 jobs to maintain profits in the face of increasing generic competition and the uncertainties associated with health care reform.

The deal will be structured as a reverse merger, so technically Kenilworth-based Schering-Plough will be the surviving company. However, it will operate under Merck’s better-known name.

The structural decision is an attempt to preserve $2 billion a year in revenue received under a partnership with Johnson & Johnson to sell biotech drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and other immune disorders. However, Johnson & Johnson has started arbitration proceedings to argue that a change-of-control provision in its contract with Schering-Plough allows it to take all revenue from the drugs.


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