Merck KGaA plans to cut back its biopharmaceutical division Merck Serono, cutting 500 jobs and transferring another 750 as it closes its Geneva headquarters.
The company plans workforce reductions across all global operations, and will
relocate Geneva-based R&D functions to Germany, the US and China.
The cutbacks, a response to falling profits and growing competitive and market pressures, will shift the division’s centre of gravity from Switzerland to Germany.
Stefan Oschmann, the Merck Executive Board member responsible for Merck Serono, said: “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.
“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.”
Merck Serono will consolidate all headquarter functions in Darmstadt, Germany, and transfer key R&D positions from Geneva to Darmstadt, Beijing and Boston – taking advantage of the latter’s well-established biotech hub.
Of the division’s 1,250 current positions in Geneva, over 750 will be transferred and the remainder will be lost.
Merck Serono will maintain its manufacturing presence in Switzerland, including its biotech production sites in Aubonne and Corsier-sur-Vevey. Its manufacturing operations in Coinsins will be transferred to Aubonne, and 80 jobs will be lost across the three sites.
A consultation process with employees will start on April 25, and will include attempts to identify redeployment opportunities.
In addition, a dedicated team will try to help employees identify potential spin-off and start-up opportunities. Merck Serono is prepared to commit up to €30m in seed funding to support these projects.
The division plans to commence relocations and workforce reductions in the second half of 2012, to be concluded in the first half of 2013.