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GEN News Highlights : Apr 24, 2012

Merck Serono to Close Geneva Headquarters, Relocate Functions to Darmstadt

Restructuring in Switzerland cuts 500 jobs and transfers 750 to Germany, U.S., and China.

Merck KGaA announced plans to close its biotech division Merck Serono’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and consolidate all the headquarter functions at one campus site in Darmstadt, Germany. Certain other Merck Serono operations in Switzerland, including key R&D positions, will also be moved to Merck’s locations in Darmstadt, Boston, and Beijing.

Merck Serono will, however, retain its biotech production sites in Aubonne and Corsier-sur-Vevey, albeit with the loss of 80 jobs at these two sites and at Coinsins. Manufacturing operations at the Coinsins site will be transferred to Aubonne.

The Swiss restructuring will lead to the loss of over 500 jobs, the firm admits, although of the 1,250 current positions in Geneva, over 750 will be transferred. This will include 130 positions relating to technical manufacturing operations, which will be moved from Geneva to Aubonne so the Geneva manufacturing site can be closed. The firm’s Swiss market operations in Zug will be retained.

In parallel with the restructuring, Merck Serono is implementing a dedicated team to assist employees and other relevant stakeholders in evaluating possible spin-out and start-up opportunities. To this end the firm has pledged up to €30 million in seed funding for projects and compounds that aren’t central to its existing and future business objectives.

“We are committed to working closely with key stakeholders, especially affected employees, to find socially responsible solutions, including exploring potential entrepreneur partnership programs and redeployment proposals,” comments Stefan Oschmann, executive board member at Merck, who has responsibility for the Merck Serono division. "The planned measures for Merck Serono’s operations in Switzerland are needed to ensure our global competitive position in a rapidly changing market and to secure the long-term future of the company. Regrettably, these planned measures include the closure of our headquarters in Geneva.”