Sanofi, Merck Name CEO Of Animal Unit

Merck and Sanofi-Aventis SA say Raul Kohan will be CEO of their animal health joint venture, which is expected to be the world's largest maker of pet and livestock medicines.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Merck & Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA said Tuesday Raul Kohan will be the CEO of their planned animal health joint venture, which is expected to be the world's largest maker of pet and livestock medicines and vaccines.

Kohan, 58, is the president of Merck's animal health business, Intervet/Schering-Plough. The companies said Tuesday he will take his new position after regulators in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere approve the combination of Intervet and Sanofi's Merial animal health business. That could happen in the first quarter of 2011.

The combined business, to be called Merial-Intervet, reunites Merck and Sanofi as partners. Merial was founded in 1997 as a 50-50 partnership of the two companies, but Sanofi bought out Merck's interest for $4 billion late last year.

That deal was arranged to help speed approval from antitrust regulators for Merck's $41 billion purchase of Schering-Plough Corp. last November. The purchase enabled Merck to boost net income by slashing jobs and costs, expand its portfolio of drugs in development and diversify by adding Schering's businesses in biologic drugs and consumer health products.

Kohan joined Schering-Plough in 1984, overseeing animal and consumer health care and later moving up to deputy head of animal health and senior vice president. He stayed on after Merck bought Schering-Plough.

Current Merial Chairman Jose Barella will keep his job until the transaction closes. He joined Merial in 2001 and became chairman in 2007.

Merck, of Whitehouse Station, N.J., and France's Sanofi-Aventis this spring said the combined business would have a share of about 29 percent in the $19 billion-a-year global market for medicines for pets and livestock. That's well ahead of the leader, Pfizer Inc.'s Fort Dodge unit, which has about 20 percent of the market.

Animal health products are an attractive market because sales are growing at a steady 5 percent a year and products generally are not subject to generic competition. In addition, companies have more freedom to set prices without pressure from insurance plans.

Merial sells two widely used pet medicines, flea-and-tick blocker Frontline and chewable heartworm preventer Heartgard. Intervet sells Panacur Plus, for preventing and controlling internal parasites including heartworm in dogs, and Plerion for treating roundworm and tapeworm infestations.

In midday trading, shares of Merck were unchanged at $35.27. Shares of Sanofi fell 36 cents to $29.46 in New York trading.

AP Business Writer Marley Seaman in New York contributed to this story.

More in Operations