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Business

Merck Chief: Schering Offer Due April; Job Cut Rumors False

German drug maker Merck is to make a formal offer for rivals Schering next month, Merck boss Michael Roemer said in an interview published Saturday.

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Merck will make an formal offer for Schering next month

"The official offer will be made in April," he told the Tagespiegel daily. "I am acting on the principle that a decision will come in June."

Saying he was convinced that the takeover would go ahead, despite Schering's rejection of Merck's informal bid, Roemer denied reports that it would mean the loss of up to 4,500 jobs in Schering's workforce.

"It is false," he said. "Our objective is not to reduce staff but create an enterprise capable of growth."

Roemer hastened to reassure Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, who said Tuesday he was worried by the prospects of a takeover of Schering, which employs 6,000 people in the capital.

"Berlin will play a major role in the future, particularly in research," he said. "We are not going to economize on that -- Berlin need not be afraid."

Tough negotiations ahead as Schering rebuffs Merck

Zentrale Pharmakonzern Schering AG in Berlin

Schering is currently an unwilling target

Merck unveiled its takeover bid at the beginning of the week, offering 77 euros per share, or 14.6 billion euros (17.5 billion dollars), which was promptly rejected by Schering.

Sources said Schering was seeking possible acquisition targets in order to create additional value and make the company less attractive.

Schering says the offer of the 338-year-old family-run Merck "significantly undervalues" its business.

A merger with Merck, the world's oldest pharmaceuticals firm, would create one of the leading drug makers in Europe and the 14th largest in the world.

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