FEW COMPANIES have a history as long and interesting as Merck. Founded in 1668 by Friedrich Jacob Merck as a pharmacy in Darmstadt, the world’s oldest apothecary has survived several European wars, two world wars and the Nazi regime. In 1917 America’s government confiscated its American subsidiary under the Trading with the Enemy Act. It has operated as a rival business, based in New Jersey but, confusingly, also named Merck, ever since.
很少有公司的历史像默克这样悠久又有趣。它成立于 1668 年，当时弗雷德里克・雅各布・默克（Friedrich Jacob Merck）在达姆施塔特（Darmstadt）开了一家药房，之后这家世界上最古老的药剂商挺过了几次欧洲战争、两次世界大战和纳粹的统治。1917 年，美国政府依照《与敌国贸易法》（Trading with the Enemy Act）将默克在美国的子公司没收充公。自那以后它成了原母公司的竞争对手，总部设在新泽西，但保留了原来的名字，让人很容易混淆。
Belén Garijo, the no-nonsense 60-year-old Spaniard who will take over as Merck’s chief executive on May 1 st, says she is keenly aware of her company’s heritage and its unique ownership structure. Fully 70% of the company is still in the hands of the 13 th generation of Mercks (the REST is owned by public investors). And it was at the family’s instigation that Stefan Oschmann, the outgoing CEO, and Ms Garijo, his deputy, transformed Merck through a series of bold acquisitions from a drugmaker living off legacy medicines into a conglomerate that makes gear and chemicals for biotechnology labs as well as pharmaceuticals. “Diversification is strength,” insists Ms Garijo, who herself embodies diversity, becoming only the second woman ever to head a firm in the DAX 30 index of Germany’s bluest chips.
现年 60 岁、朴实干练的西班牙人葛丽鹤（Belén Garijo）将于 5 月 1 日接任德国默克的首席执行官，她说自己对这家公司的传统及其独特的所有权结构了如指掌。该公司足足 70% 的股份仍掌握在第 13 代默克家族的手中（其余由公众投资者持有）。正是在这个家族的发起下，即将离任的首席执行官欧思明（Stefan Oschmann）和他的副手葛丽鹤通过一系列大胆的收购，将默克从一家靠卖传统药剂为生的制药商转变成了为生物技术实验室和制药公司生产设备和化学品的企业集团。「多元化就是实力。」葛丽鹤强调。她本人就是多元化的体现，她是有史以来执掌德国最优蓝筹股 DAX30 指数公司的仅仅第二位女性。
Investors applauded the strategic shift under Mr Oschmann (see chart). Merck’s market value increased from €36 bn ($41 bn) in 2016 when he took the helm to €63 bn, more than Bayer, another big German drugmaker, which has almost twice as many employees as Merck, and nearly as much as BASF, a chemicals giant. Last year the group’s revenues rose by 9% to €17.5 bn; net profit shot up by 51% to €2 bn.
投资者对欧思明治下的战略转型拍手叫好（见图表）。默克的市值从 2016 年欧思明上任时的 360 亿欧元（410 亿美元）升至 630 亿欧元，超过另一家德国大型制药商拜耳（而拜耳的员工数量几乎是默克的两倍），与化工巨头巴斯夫（BASF）相当。去年默克的收入增长了 9%，达到 175 亿欧元；净利润飙升 51%，达到 20 亿欧元。
The most immediate task for Ms Garijo is to manage a shake-up of the executive suite. The company is installing new heads of drugmaking, research and development, and the American pharmaceuticals business. It is also looking for a new head of the lab division; Udit Batra, who used to run it, left after Ms Garijo pipped him to the top job last year.
The new boss must also ensure that the commercial potential of the course charted by her predecessor is realised, says Matthew Weston of Credit Suisse, a bank. Some big bets appear to have disappointed. Bintrafusp alfa, a drug to fight lung cancer that is in the late stages of development, did not show any benefit over a rival drug in trials. Only two other drugs are close to potential clinical use, a lung-cancer treatment and one to fight multiple sclerosis. In 2020 sales of the medicines business edged down by 1%.
这位新老板还得确保由其前任划定的路线将实现商业潜力，瑞士信贷银行的马修・韦斯顿（Matthew Weston）说。一些大赌注似乎已经让人失望了。治疗晚期肺癌的药物 Bintrafusp alfa 在临床试验中没有显现出相比一种对照药物的任何优势。目前只有另外两种药物有可能接近临床应用，一种用于治疗肺癌，另一种用于多发性硬化症。2020 年，药品业务的销售额小幅下降了 1%。
In the pandemic year this was handily offset by the strong performance of Merck’s lab division, which has become the firm’s biggest ARM. Its sales increased by nearly 10% to €7.5 bn in 2020. In February Merck announced that it will significantly accelerate the supply of the fatty bubbles needed to make the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against covid-19. Few companies in the world are able to produce these custom lipids in large quantities for vaccine production. The company has also said it will invest in production capacity for disposable plastic materials for bioreactors, another essential ingredient for makers of covid-19 vaccines.
在新冠肺炎肆虐的一年里，这点降幅被默克实验室部门的强劲表现轻松抵消，该部门已经成为默克最大的一支。2020 年该部门销售额增长了近 10%，达到 75 亿欧元。今年 2 月，默克宣布将大幅度加快供应生产辉瑞 - BioNTech 联合开发的新冠疫苗所需的脂质体。全球能大量生产这些用于疫苗生产的定制脂质体的公司寥寥无几。默克还表示将投资生产用于制造一次性生物反应器的塑料材料，生物反应器也是新冠疫苗制造商必需的物料。
The lab business should continue to thrive once the pandemic abates, thinks Mr Weston. That will let Ms Garijo focus on medicines, which as former head of the pharma division she is well placed to do. Mr Oschmann will be a tough act to follow—but not an impossible one.