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Strong Roots


As a company that has helped advance science as we know it, we look back with pride in what we’ve achieved. And we’re confident in where we are headed to benefit patients and our customers. True to our roots in science, we advance technologies for life in all its vibrancy – driven by the belief that there is always a better way.

Milestones

1668: Friedrich Jacob Merck receives a license to run a pharmacy in Darmstadt

1668: Friedrich Jacob Merck receives a license to run a pharmacy in Darmstadt

Friedrich Jacob Merck completes a pharmacy apprenticeship at the City Hall Pharmacy in his hometown of Schweinfurt, Germany, but does not have any opportunities for advancement there. In 1641, at the age of 20 he becomes the acting pharmacist of the Court Pharmacy in Danzig. In the 1660s, he comes to Darmstadt, where he takes over the pharmacy located on Schlossgraben. On August 26, 1668, he receives a license granting him the right and privilege to run the pharmacy. This pharmacy is the historic core of the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company.

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In the 18th century, famous members of the Merck family include not only pharmacists.

In the 18th century, famous members of the Merck family include not only pharmacists.

Johann Heinrich Merck, born in 1741, was a writer, natural scientist and art expert. For Johann Wolfgang Goethe he is a mentor: first as a critic and publisher, then as a scientific advisor. He competently familiarizes himself with areas that are still in their infancy: chemistry, mineralogy, paleontology, comparative anatomy.

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1827: From a pharmacy craft to a research-based industrial company

1827: From a pharmacy craft to a research-based industrial company

When Emanuel Merck takes over the pharmacy in 1816, he can build on a broad scientific education at a private institute and various universities. He is fascinated by natural substance chemistry. In his pharmacy laboratory, he succeeds in preparing pure alkaloids, highly effective plant constituents that the scientific community is particularly interested in due to their medicinal effect. The presentation of the “Cabinet of Novelties” in 1827 will mark the transformation from a pharmacy craft to a research-based industrial company.

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1850: The business partnership E. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany

1850: The business partnership E. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany

The size of the workforce increases, the product range grows: In 1850, Emanuel Merck must map out the company’s strategic direction. Together with his sons, he forms the business partnership E. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany As a businessman, pharmacist, and chemist, the brothers Carl, Georg and Wilhelm are ideally qualified.

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Expansion: In 1879, E. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, has business contacts in all continents

Expansion: In 1879, E. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, has business contacts in all continents

From its base in Europe, E. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, establishes business contacts to Asia, North America and South America.  Evidence of first business contacts to Africa dates back to 1867. At the Sydney International Exhibition, in 1879 E. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, has its own booth featuring chemical and pharmaceutical preparations receives a prize for its products. The factory in Darmstadt must adapt to this challenge.

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1904: "The new factory is three-quarters of an hour from the center of the city...”

1904: "The new factory is three-quarters of an hour from the center of the city...”

A shortage of space arises in Darmstadt. At the end of the 19th century, no further expansion possibilities exist at company headquarters. The densely built up factory premises is surrounded by the rapidly growing city. In 1904, the entire factory moves to its current location on Frankfurter Strasse.

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1917: U.S. subsidiary Merck&Co. is expropriated and has been an independent company since

1917: U.S. subsidiary Merck&Co. is expropriated and has been an independent company since

In 1917, the United States enters the war. The “Trading with the Enemy Act” permits measures extending to the confiscation of property owned by private German individuals and companies in the U.S. In 1919, the separation of E.  Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, and Merck & Co. Inc., NJ, USA, is completed.

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1995: Establishment of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and public listing

1995: Establishment of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and public listing

The lengthy growth process and the associated increasing capital requirements lead to structural changes in 1995: the establishment of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a corporation with general partners. With a volume of DM 2.4 billion, this represents the largest public offering in German history at that time. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, manages the operating business of the Group of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Via the general partner E. Merck KG, Darmstadt, Germany the family holds the capital majority.

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2000: Change in the leadership of the company – the family withdraws from Executive Board

2000: Change in the leadership of the company – the family withdraws from Executive Board

Professor Dr. Hans Joachim Langmann had been managing the company for nearly 30 years, when he retires as Chairman of the Executive Board in 2000. He shaped the transformation of the predominantly German company into a successful international corporate group – and initiated the public offering in 1995. Since then, the Merck family has no longer managed the operating business of Merck KGgA, Darmstadt, Germany.

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2007: A leading biotech company

2007: A leading biotech company

In 2007, the transformational acquisition of Serono succeeds. With a purchase price of € 10.3 billion, this was the company's largest ever acquisition at the time. In 1999, Serono opened its Biotech Center in Corsier-sur-Vevey on Lake Geneva, one of the world’s largest and most modern biotech facilities. In 2007, the biopharmaceutical production facility, primarily for the latest generation of biological active ingredients for oncology, is expanded, making us one of the world’s leading biotech companies.

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2010: A leading partner to the life science industry – the acquisition of Millipore

2010: A leading partner to the life science industry – the acquisition of Millipore

With the acquisition of the Millipore Corporation in 2010, the strategy of focusing on profitable, specialty products with high growth rates continues. The acquisition of a major life science company headquartered in Billerica, Massachusetts (USA), additionally leads to a better balance between Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals within the Group. The combination creates a world-class partner for the life science sector, a business with sales of approximately € 2.1 billion.

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Start of e-commerce activities with the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich in 2015

Start of e-commerce activities with the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich in 2015

The Sigma-Aldrich acquisition allows us to offer our life science portfolio of more than 300,000 products via one of the leading e-commerce platforms. The acquisition expands our expertise in end-to-end solutions and leads to the development of CRISPR technology for precision gene editing. In the United States, the company operates as MilliporeSigma.

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