13 August 1999

Top European drug companies merge

TWO of Europes leading drug companies, Hoechst of Germany and Rhône-Poulenc of France, have been given the go-ahead by competition watchdogs in Brussels to merge, subject to certain conditions.

Trading as Aventis, the new outfit will refocus on its life-sciences activities, creating one of the largest companies of its type in the world.

But as part of the tie-up, the EU commission is insisting Aventis disposes of certain pharmaceutical and plant protection products to limit its domination of these fields. In particular, the companies are selling their ipu production to rival firm Agrevo.

It is also having to divest of its £300m animal health products business, Hoescht Roussel Veterinar. This is expected to go to Dutch group Axel Nobel which operates in the veterinary medicine field as Intervet. &#42