Sigma-Aldrich sale raises concerns of cutbacks

Sigma-Aldrich makes its headquarters in St. Louis and was acquired for $17 by German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA in September 2014. | Courtesy of Sigma-Aldrich
Sigma-Aldrich’s sale to Merck KGaA has raised questions about job cuts for the St. Louis-based company. | Courtesy of Sigma-Aldrich

The $17 billion sale of St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich to Merck KGaA means the 80-year-old research chemical company with 9,000 worldwide employees will merely be one of many global outposts for a large German chemical and drug company. Merck promised to keep a “significant presence” in St. Louis, but it made the same promise to Billerica, Mass., where its EMD Millipore business competes with Sigma-Aldrich.

Merck also pledged to cut costs by $340 million a year, which means layoffs somewhere are inevitable. The first worry is whether those layoffs will be concentrated in St. Louis, where Sigma-Aldrich employs 1,800.

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