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MERCK KGAA (MRK)
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Merck KGaA May Withdraw Research from Portugal over Debt-Report

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07/09/2012 | 08:28am CEST

German chemical company Merck KGaA (>> Merck KGaA) may withdraw future investments for research projects in Portugal worth tens of millions of euros unless the government hospitals stick to the agreed-upon debt repayments, German daily newspaper Financial Times Deutschland reports Monday.

Merck Portugal's manager Fritz Sacher told the paper the company's research projects are long-term and require mutual trust as a basis. "The Portuguese government's lacking payment habits undermine this trust," he is quoted as saying.

Portuguese government hospitals owe the pharmaceutical industry a total of more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.84 billion) and companies have to wait nearly 550 days on average until invoices are paid, FTD reports.

Some companies, including Roche Holding AG (ROG.VX), have already halted the sale of medications on credit to highly indebted countries like Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy until outstanding debts are paid, the paper notes, but for many companies such drastic steps are difficult as they carry responsibility for people's wellbeing.

Withdrawing research projects is a way of putting pressure on the government, as Portugal is an attractive location for research investments, FTD says. "The conditions for certain research and human studies are as good as in the U.S., but it's significantly more cost-effective in Portugal," Sacher told the paper.

Newspaper website: http://www.ftd.de

Write to the Frankfurt Bureau at djnews.frankfurt@dowjones.com

Stocks mentioned in the article : Merck KGaA
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Financials (€)
Sales 2017 15 412 M
EBIT 2017 3 243 M
Net income 2017 1 763 M
Debt 2017 9 719 M
Yield 2017 1,39%
P/E ratio 2017 21,88
P/E ratio 2018 19,13
EV / Sales 2017 1,39x
EV / Sales 2018 1,23x
Capitalization 11 762 M
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Number of Analysts 27
Average target price 109 €
Spread / Average Target 20%
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NameTitle
Wolfgang Heinz Büchele Chairman-Supervisory Board
Marcus Kuhnert Chief Financial Officer
Crocifissa Attardo Member-Supervisory Board
Mechthild Auge Member-Supervisory Board
Michael Fletterich Vice Chairman-Supervisory Board
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