Merck KGaA Completes Sale of VWR International

08-Apr-2004

Merck KGaA announced today that it has successfully completed the sale of its laboratory distribution business, VWR International, for USD 1.68 billion. The sale was accomplished through a stock purchase agreement, whereby a fund managed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, a leading global private equity firm, bought 100% of VWR.

With 5,880 employees and annual sales of approximately EUR 2.4 billion, the West Chester, Pennsylvania-based company is one of the world's leading distributors of laboratory products. VWR's 750,000 products range from test tubes to fully equipped laboratory clean rooms and biologic materials for drug development.

Proceeds from the sale will leave Merck almost free of financial debt and allow it to focus on its core businesses of pharmaceuticals and chemicals. As part of the agreement, VWR will continue to distribute Merck's chemicals and laboratory products.

The Laboratory Distribution business accounted for 33% of the Merck Group sales in 2003 and 11% of its operating result. VWR's sales in 2003 declined 11% when calculated in euros but rose 1.4% when adjusted for currency effects. Two-thirds of VWR sales are generated in North America. VWR's operating result for 2003 declined 6.1% to EUR 79 million resulting in a Return on Sales (ROS) of 3.3% compared to 3.1% in 2002. VWR's CEO Walter Zywottek and his management team have agreed to remain with VWR.

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