Merck KGaA

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Merck KGaA

legal form Limited partnership based on shares
ISIN DE0006599905
founding 1668
Seat Darmstadt , GermanyGermanyGermany 
Number of employees 57,071
sales 16.152 billion euros
Branch Chemical and pharmaceutical industries
As of December 31, 2019

Headquarters of Merck KGaA in Darmstadt.
V. l. No. Merck pyramid (demolished in November 2014), "Grüner Turm" by Friedrich Pützer (1905) and "Adlerhorst" (office area of ​​the management)

The Merck KGaA in North America ( EMD ) is a German company of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry , based in Darmstadt . Today's Merck  KGaA is independent of the US pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc. Both companies are dedicated to the German industrialist due Merck family, which Merck & Co., Inc. to World War I as a subsidiary of E. Merck ( today Merck KGaA). As a result of the war, Merck & Co., Inc. became an independent company through expropriation .

The German Merck lost the rights to the name Merck in North America through the expropriation of the US subsidiary and is no longer allowed to use it there. Therefore it occurs in North America under the name EMD (derived from Emanuel Merck, Darmstadt ). Abroad, the US company Merck & Co., Inc. operates as Merck Sharp & Dohme ( MSD ) .

Merck's beginnings go back to 1668. This makes Merck the oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company in the world.

Corporate development

Historical development

Mercksche Engelapotheke in Darmstadt at the end of the 18th century

On August 26, 1668, Friedrich Jakob Merck received permission to run a pharmacy in Darmstadt. The Engelapotheke still belongs to the Merck family to this day. Heinrich Emanuel Merck began isolating active ingredients himself in 1827 , including a. Expel alkaloids such as morphine . In 1850 he founded a joint venture with his sons ( E. Merck Darmstadt ), which by 1860 was already offering 800 different products. It is a special innovation that Merck works according to binding purity standards.

Production in the factory from 1886

In the 19th century, Merck was probably the pharmaceutical company with the highest sales in the German Empire . In 1894, the first thyroid preparation was developed worldwide. At the turn of the century, Merck transformed from a “large pharmacy” for natural substances into a company for synthetic active ingredients. In 1903 the sleeping pill veronal was introduced - the world's first barbiturate .

In the years 1903/1904 the company, which has now grown to over 1000 employees, moved to new facilities in the north of Darmstadt. From 1906 to 1918 Merck belonged to a larger manufacturing, purchasing and price cartel directed against IG Farben . By the First World War, the number of employees and sales increased sharply. As early as 1887, there was a sales office in the USA, which was converted in 1908 into the formally independent stock corporation Merck & Co., which was still closely linked to the parent company . After the USA entered the war, Merck & Co. was confiscated and sold in 1919 to a consortium led by family member Georg Merck , who had previously managed the branch and had become a US citizen. As a result of this confiscation, neither the German E. Merck in North America under the name Merck, nor the US company outside North America.

Main laboratory (1936)

During the First World War, E. Merck produced essential medical goods, but also gas masks and ammunition. A new development was the opioid eukodal ( oxycodone ). In 1920, for the first time, the management did not consist exclusively of family members. A vitamin D preparation was marketed from 1927, followed in 1936 as a world first, vitamin B1 .

In 1939 Merck had 4,000 employees. From 1932 - and until 1959 - the company was managed by Karl Emanuel Merck , NSDAP member since 1933 and a military economic leader during the Nazi era . From 1942 onwards, the family's influence on the management of the company was reduced in favor of the strictly National Socialist directorate Bernhard Pfotenhauer, who was also appointed military manager.

From 1941, civilian workers were recruited from Western Europe during the Second World War . From 1942, forced laborers from Eastern Europe were used to produce, among other things, essential pharmaceuticals and chemical pesticides. The Eastern European workers were barracked and were paid and treated less than the regular workforce; no serious attacks are reported. Merck had a notable stake in the company Elektrochemische Werke München, Dr. Adolph, Albert Pietzsch & Co. (EWM), which was headed by Albert Pietzsch, who later headed the Reich Chamber of Commerce. EWM produced special fuels for submarines, torpedoes and missiles. On December 12, 1944, Merck was hit by an air raid that killed 60 employees and destroyed over 70 percent of production capacity. Merck has joined the German Business Settlement Fund and is also trying to make amends, especially in Belarus.

Aerial view of the plant in Gernsheim am Rhein

Merck received its first new production license in April 1945. The company assets were confiscated (until 1948) and an external factory management was appointed. At the end of 1945 2290 people were employed. In the 1950s and 1960s many new active ingredients (a. U. Were brought to market oxymetazoline / Nasivin , the birth control pill Aconcen , light substances). Research on liquid crystals was started, a technologically leading sewage treatment plant was built for the Darmstadt plant and the construction of the second largest group production facility in Gernsheim began (including the production of pearlescent pigments and thioglycolic acid ).

The liquid crystal researchers Matthias Bremer, Melanie Klasen-Memmer and Kazuaki Tarumi at the presentation of the German Future Prize 2003 by Federal President Johannes Rau

Aconcen was withdrawn from the market in 1970 as a precaution; in the same year Hans Joachim Langmann became chairman of the management board. Sales amounted to the equivalent of € 358 million; In 2000 the value was € 6.74 billion. In 1972 Merck acquired half of the Italian Bracco Group (sold in 2000). The wormer praziquantel received the Galenus von Pergamon Prize in 1985 . In the 1980s, Otto Esser and Hans Joachim Langmann, two members of the management team, held top positions in German business associations. In 1991, Merck took over the French company Lipha , which brought in the blockbuster Glucophage (active ingredient: metformin ).

Former logo of Merck KGaA until October 13, 2015

In 1995 the family sold 26% of the shares in the company, now organized as Merck KGaA , to limited partners. The rest lies with the family, which acts as a general partner of E. Merck OHG. In 1996 Merck took over liquid crystal activities from Hoffmann-La Roche . Acamprosat received the Galenus von Pergamon Prize in 1999. In 2001 the company had to pay a fine of € 9.2 million for unauthorized price fixing in the vitamin market. In 2003, Merck researchers received the German Future Prize for their work on liquid crystals.

Merck has been restructuring the company since the beginning of the 21st century. In 2004 Merck sold Biomet Merck (bone substitute materials , implants ) and VWR International (laboratory distribution), among others . Merck was free of debt in 2006 and tried to take over its Berlin competitor Schering AG against its will. The takeover failed, but the commitment was a financial success.

In 2006/7 the Swiss biotechnology company Serono SA was acquired for the equivalent of € 10.6 billion, making Merck the third largest biotechnology company in the world. The high-turnover generics division was sold for financing . Since then, the Merck family's stake in Merck KGaA has been 70%. In 2010 the US laboratory equipment supplier Millipore Corp. was also taken over . Further acquisitions in 2014 included the British specialty chemicals company AZ Electronic Materials and in 2015 the large US company Sigma-Aldrich (€ 13.1 billion). Residues from lindane production that were disposed of in accordance with the law in the Gernsheim plant in the 1950s to 1970s had to be fetched back at great expense and professionally incinerated in recent years.

Merck KGaA today

Aerial view of the Merck headquarters in Darmstadt, taken from the south-east

Around 50,000 employees work for the company, 10,900 of them in Germany, around 8,900 of them at the Darmstadt headquarters. This is also where the main training including around 520 trainees takes place. Production takes place in 21 countries with 63 locations. Merck is represented in 66 countries worldwide with 191 companies (as of 2013).

Jon Baumhauer , Volker Bouffier , Angela Merkel and Karl-Ludwig Kley (from left to right) on September 23, 2010 at Merck in Darmstadt

The majority of the KGaA's capital is held by E. Merck KG, which acts as general partner and is managed by the Merck family and sets the strategic guidelines of the group. Around 70% of E. Merck KG's capital is held predominantly by silent partners of the Merck family (217 members; as of October 2009). 130 of them form the shareholders' meeting , which in turn determines the family council.

The family council is E. Merck KG's corporate body. It appoints the members of the shareholders' council and the chairman of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, as well as his deputy, and makes decisions of fundamental importance for the company. The chairman of the eleven-member committee is Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp .

The Annual General Meeting on April 8, 2011

The shareholders' council has a function similar to the supervisory board of a stock corporation. He oversees the management of E. Merck KG and Merck KGaA. Essential business of the KGaA requires the approval of the shareholders' council, which also appoints and dismisses the members of the KGaA management. Both family members and external members, such as Rolf Krebs and Theo Siegert, sit on the shareholders' council . Johannes Baillou is the chairman of the nine-member Board of Partners . Stangenberg-Haverkamp and Baillou are descendants in the eleventh generation of Friedrich Jacob Merck and, due to their function, the top representatives of the Merck family of entrepreneurs.

While many chemical and pharmaceutical companies around the world have focused on one business area in recent years , Merck KGaA continues to rely on both pillars, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

Share and shareholders

The majority of Merck's limited partnership is family-owned. The Merck family holds around 70% of the total capital through E. Merck KG as general partner . The remaining 30% of the capital is based on the shares of the limited partners . The shares have been traded on the stock exchange since 1995 and have been listed in the DAX on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since June 15, 2007 .

The number of publicly traded shares is around 129 million. Reportable free float shareholders as of November 2017 are BlackRock with 7.20% and Massachusetts Financial Services Company (MFS) with 4.91%.

Business areas


The Health Care segment is divided into three businesses: Merck Serono, Allergopharma and Biosimilars. The consumer health business was sold to Procter & Gamble in 2018.


Biopharma, Merck Serono until 2015 , was created in 2007 with the takeover of the Swiss biotechnology company Serono and the subsequent merger with its own pharmaceutical division Merck Ethicals . Biopharma sells and produces original prescription drugs in the following areas:

Current research focuses are oncology , neurodegenerative diseases and rheumatology .

In oncology, Merck works z. B. in the research and development of therapies that target cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. The development projects use the potential of immunology , biotechnology and molecular biology to support the body in its own fight against cancer cells. The aim is to find effective therapies with few side effects, prolong patient survival and improve their quality of life.

Merck researches in four main areas:

Until the end of 2015, one of the most important development substances was the hypoxia-activated molecule evofosfamide (previously TH-302).

Consumer Health (self-medication)

The consumer health business produces and sells non-prescription drugs ( OTC drugs ) and dietary supplements . Examples are Nasivin, Bion3, Multibionta, Cebion, Charcoal Compretten , Femibion, Kidabion, Neurobion, Epamax and Kytta Ointment. In April 2018, the company announced that the division had been sold to Procter & Gamble for € 3.4 billion . The transaction was completed in the fourth quarter of 2018.


The Allergopharma business comprised products for the treatment of allergies. The subsidiary Allergopharma was founded in 1969 and was a full member of the Merck Group. In February 2020, Merck announced that Merck was selling Allergopharma to Dermapharm Holding SE .


The Biosimilars division comprised the development and manufacture of biosimilar drugs. The Biosimilars division was sold to Fresenius Kabi in 2017 .

Life science

The Gernsheim plant with around 700 employees

The life science segment consists of the Merck Millipore business and the life science portfolio of Sigma-Aldrich, which was acquired in 2015 . The core brands include Millipore, Milli-Q, Sigma, SAFC and BioReliance.

Merck Millipore

Merck Millipore was formed in 2010 after the takeover of the US company Millipore . All activities of Millipore and large parts of the former Merck Performance & Life Science Chemicals division have been merged into this division . Merck Millipore consists of three business units : Bioscience , Lab Solutions and Process Solutions . The Bioscience business unit deals with solutions and reagents for protein research and cell biology, cell culture solutions, and products and services for the development of biopharmaceutical active ingredients. Laboratory chemicals and other materials for research, science and industry, products and services for sampling and test kits for the pharmaceutical, food and diagnostic industries, as well as products, consumables and services relating to high-purity laboratory water for science and industry are the areas of activity of Lab Solutions . In Process Solutions are products and services for the production of chemical and biological drugs in the foreground.


Sigma-Aldrich was an independent American high-tech company with activities in the areas of laboratory equipment and high-performance materials.

Performance Materials

Liquid Crystals (liquid crystals)

Merck is one of the world's largest manufacturers of liquid crystals , which are required for the manufacture of liquid crystal displays . The world market share is over 60%. The company is thus a so-called hidden champion .

For several years now, Merck has also been developing and marketing the possible successor technology, organic light-emitting diodes .

The Liquid Crystals division also includes materials for photovoltaics and the lighting industry.

Pigments & Cosmetics (pigments and cosmetics)

This business area bundles all activities for pigments in paints, printing and plastic applications, in the area of ​​security technology (e.g. counterfeit protection), pigments for applications in the food and pharmaceuticals sector, functional materials, and cosmetic active ingredients and pigments.

Social Commitment

Merck donates part of the company's profits to charitable causes. One supported project is, for example, the Merck praziquantel donation program , in which Merck and the World Health Organization (WHO) are fighting schistosomiasis in African school children. Since 2007, Merck has made a total of 200 million tablets with the active ingredient praziquantel available free of charge. This means that 27 million children can be treated. At the beginning of 2012, the company announced that it would continue its ten-year commitment in the fight against schistosomiasis indefinitely until the disease is eradicated in Africa. To this end, it is planned to increase the number of praziquantel tablets donated annually to up to 250 million in the medium term. As of 2019, more than 900 million tablets have already been donated and the costs for transport to Africa have been covered.

Historical buildings


Since 2004 there has been an in-house museum at the company's headquarters in Darmstadt. Around 350 years of chemical and pharmaceutical history of this oldest chemical-pharmaceutical company in the world is documented on an area of ​​around 400 m².


Web links

Commons : Merck KGaA  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Merck in the 13th generation | Stock market history | . In: . ( [accessed on May 26, 2019]).
  2. a b Annual Report 2017 , accessed on December 11, 2018
  3. a b Annual Report 2019 , accessed on July 3, 2020
  4. Merck KGaA: The name Merck ( Memento from October 8, 2010 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  5. Darmstadt residents are allowed to buy Sigma-Aldrich for 13.1 billion euros
  6. Merck pullers - 400 million in two weeks. In: Manager Magazin from June 14, 2006.
  7. ^ Board of Partners of E. Merck KG ( Memento from November 26, 2010 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  8. ^ W. Huber: Supervisory bodies of E. Merck OHG newly appointed. Press release from Merck KGaA on July 28, 2004.
  9. J. Salz et al .: Merck relies on new drugs. In: Wirtschaftswoche from January 16, 2007.
  10. ^ H. Neukirchen and JH Wiskow: Tradition loaded. In: Wirtschaftswoche from October 4, 2006.
  11. Shares & Bonds - Investors | Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Retrieved May 26, 2019 .
  12. BaFin - Significant shares of voting rights according to Sections 33, 38 and 39 of the Securities Trading Act (WpHG). Retrieved May 26, 2019 .
  13. Merck returns rights to metabolic drug Kuvan to US specialists. Retrieved May 26, 2019 .
  14. immune Oncology: Merck collaborates with Pfizer. In: November 17, 2014, accessed July 1, 2015 .
  15. Siegfried Hofmann: pharmaceutical giant fails with "high-risk project." In: . December 7, 2015, accessed May 31, 2016 .
  16. Successfully divests Consumer Health - News | Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Retrieved October 5, 2019 .
  17. ^ Company Allergophama. Retrieved January 17, 2017 .
  18. Merck sells Allergopharma to Dermapharm Holding SE , Merck PM on February 19, 2020, accessed on February 20, 2020
  19. Kirsten Sucker-Sket (ks): Fresenius buys biosimilars from Merck . In: . September 4, 2017 ( [accessed January 24, 2018]).
  20. Merck Gernsheim now future-proof - Echo Online. In: November 4, 2015, accessed November 7, 2015 .
  21. H. Simon: Hidden Champions of the 21st Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders. Campus Verlag, 2007. ISBN 978-3-593-38380-4 . P. 20.
  22. Merck and WHO decide on partnership. In: Ärzte Zeitung of April 26, 2007.
  23. ava: Merck Serono wants to eradicate schistosomiasis. In: Ärzte Zeitung of January 30, 2012.
  24. eb: Merck KGaA supports the fight against schistosomiasis. In: Ärzte Zeitung from December 15, 2011.
  25. Schistosomiasis Company | Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Retrieved May 26, 2019 .
  26. Eckart Roloff and Karin Henke-Wendt: A family writes pharmaceutical history. (Museum of the Merck Company, Darmstadt) In: Visit your doctor or pharmacist. A tour through Germany's museums for medicine and pharmacy. Volume 2, Southern Germany. Verlag S. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2015, pp. 182-184, ISBN 978-3-7776-2511-9

Coordinates: 49 ° 54 '  N , 8 ° 39'  E