Wire Service
1 minute read
12 Apr 2019
1:57 pm

Germany’s Merck seals $6.6 billion takeover of US group Versum


German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Merck KgaA said Friday it had signed a 5.8-billion-euro ($6.6 billion) deal to buy Arizona-based Versum Materials, which supplies chemicals, gases and equipment for semiconductor manufacturing.

Merck is shelling out more for Versum than it hoped to, but the synergies look promising . AFP/DANIEL ROLAND

The Darmstadt-based group “has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Versum Materials, Inc. for $53 per share in cash,” it said in a statement — higher than an initial offer of $48 per share made by Merck in February.

With sales of around 1.2 billion euros in 2018 and 2,300 employees across Asia and North America, Versum will be integrated into Merck’s “performance materials” division, which already produces inputs for circuits and liquid crystals for computer displays.

The tie-up should increase the revenue of the materials unit by half, from 2.4 billion euros last year, and is the group’s biggest since 2015, when it took over US materials supplier Sigma-Aldrich for $17 billion.

Merck also hopes to achieve 75 million euros per year of savings three years after the merger is complete.

But the division will remain Merck’s smallest after the pharmaceuticals and “life science” laboratory supplies units, which each brought in over six billion euros in 2018.

Merck swooped in with a higher offer for Versum after the group had already agreed a merger with US-based Entegris.

Executives still have to glean approval from Versum shareholders and competition authorities, hoping to definitively tie the knot “in the second half of 2019”.

Investors in Frankfurt were sceptical of the move, with Merck shares shedding 2.5 percent to trade at 96.76 euros around 3:30pm (1330 GMT), trailing the DAX index of blue-chip companies.