Hoechst and Rhone-Poulenc deal

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The Independent Online
HOECHST SHAREHOLDERS yesterday overwhelmingly backed the $22bn merger of Germany's largest drugmaker with France's Rhone-Poulenc, paving the way for the creation of the joint company before the end of the year. The vote concludes a 20-hour meeting over two days, one of the longest in German corporate history. Jurgen Dormann, chief executive (left), told shareholders that Celanese, the company formed from Hoechst's industrial- chemicals businesses scheduled to be spun off in October, would cut 1,000 jobs. Both Hoechst and Rhone-Poulenc are moving away from chemicals to focus on more profitable pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.

The merged company will have more than $20bn in annual sales and will leapfrog AstraZeneca - the product of a $40bn merger completed earlier this year - as the biggest company in the global pharmaceuticals market.