Sanofi-Aventis and Merck & Co. announce that they will combine Merial with Intervet/Schering-Plough, Merck’s animal-health business, to create a global industry leader.

The new joint venture will be equally owned by Merck and Sanofi-Aventis. The formation of this new animal-health joint venture is subject to execution of the final agreements; an antitrust review in the United States, Europe and other countries; and other customary closing conditions. The completion of the transaction is expected to occur within the next 12 months.

“The upcoming combination of Merial and Intervet/Schering-Plough is an exciting opportunity for Sanofi-Aventis to create with Merck a leading company in the animal-health strategic and growing sector,” says Christopher Viehbacher, chief executive officer of Sanofi-Aventis. “This transaction represents another consistent milestone in our diversification strategy to bring sustainable growth to Sanofi-Aventis.” 

“The planned joint venture will have an attractive geographical network of global technology and expertise to provide health solutions based on customers’ needs, which often vary regionally,” says Richard Clark, Merck chairman and chief executive officer.

This new joint venture will offer a broader portfolio of animal-health products and services in pharmaceuticals and biologics, as well as the ability to capitalize on growth opportunities in all fields and countries around the world.

The global animal-health market reached $19 billion in 2008. Products for production animals accounted for 60 percent of total sales. This market is expected to grow at around 5 percent annually over the next five years, driven by a growing demand for animal protein, as well as a strong consumer need for companion-animal health care.

The companies say Merial and Intervet/Schering-Plough will continue to operate independently until the transaction is complete.