Following the conclusion of a record-breaking 2013, Merck is planning to invest in innovations to ensure operational growth in 2014 and the years to come. "2013 was an excellent year for Merck - all four divisions were successful," Executive Board Chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley said at the Annual General Meeting in Frankfurt. "As part of our ‘Fit for 2018’ transformation and growth program the focus of the next two years will be on growth. We are aiming for both organic and inorganic growth." To accomplish this, in-licensing agreements in pharmaceuticals and planned investments of around € 100 million in the biosimilars business are just as feasible as acquisitions. The acquisition of the high-tech material producer AZ Electronic Materials is a first step here, according to Kley. As of the night before, the acceptance level amounted to 97.8 percent of the AZ share capital.
Merck has set itself the goal of maintaining both sales as well as EBITDA pre one-time items at a stable level in 2014. This calls for the further growth of operating business, since declining royalty, license and commission income will lower EBITDA pre one-time items by more than € 100 million, Kley told shareholders. This forecast does not include effects from the AZ Electronic Materials acquisition. Merck will publish a detailed forecast for 2014 when it announces its first-quarter results on May 15.
For fiscal 2013, Merck reported solid organic sales growth of 4.2% to € 10.7 billion. Thanks to the accelerated implementation of efficiency measures, EBITDA pre one-time items increased by 9.7% to a record € 3.3 billion. Net income more than doubled to € 1.2 billion.
To allow shareholders to benefit from this record result, Merck proposed to the Annual General Meeting an increase of € 0.20 in the dividend to € 1.90. This increase of 12% takes into account that the Group is still in a period of transformation, Kley explained. Owing to the persistently high share price, Merck additionally proposed a 2:1 share split to raise the liquidity of its shares and make them even more attractive to private investors.
At this year's Annual General Meeting, the eight shareholder representatives also stood for election. Merck had proposed the following candidates for a five-year term of office:
- Wolfgang Büchele, designated CEO of Linde AG and member of the Merck Supervisory Board since July 1, 2009, as Chairman of the Supervisory Board;
- Michaela Freifrau von Glenck, teacher, member of the Merck Supervisory Board since March 28, 2008;
- Albrecht Merck, Commercial Director of the Castel Peter Winery, member of the Merck Supervisory Board since January 1, 2005;
- Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, Managing Director of AiCuris GmbH & Co. KG;
- Gregor Schulz, Chairman of the Board of Biotest AG, and
- Theo Siegert, Managing Partner of de Haen Carstanjen & Söhne, member of the Merck Supervisory Board since June 30, 2006.
Siegfried Karjetta andTobias Thelen were appointed to the Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA by E. Merck Beteiligungen KG as representatives of the Merck family.
Rolf Krebs, a member of the Supervisory Board since June 30, 2006 and Chairman since July 23, 2009, did not stand for election, nor did Johannes Baillou, Frank Binder or Hans-Jürgen Leuchs.
Furthermore, the eight employee representatives, namely Crocifissa Attardo, Mechthild Auge, Gabriele Eismann, Michael Fletterich and Alexander Putz, Dietmar Oeter, Edeltraud Glänzer, and Karl-Heinz Scheider, had already been elected to the Supervisory Board in April.