J&J Will Not Let Merck Go Quietly to Schering-Plough

Includes: JNJ, MRK, SGP
by: Derek Lowe

As predicted here (and everywhere else that's looked at this deal), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is not sitting back and letting Schering-Plough (SGP) "take over" Merck (NYSE:MRK) - not when that would mean billions of dollars of lost revenue, they're not. Thursday the company filed a notice of intention to arbitrate.

"As the public statements make clear, Merck is acquiring Schering-Plough", the company says, and that triggers an arbitration hearing under their agreement with them for sales of Remicade (and the newer agent, Simponi). Merck continues to insist that their strategy is bulletproof, and I guess we'll find out who's right. It could take months, unless Merck is willing to walk away from that revenue stream (and they're probably not).

Interestingly, that Wall Street Journal link quotes a "person familiar with the matter" as saying that Schering-Plough turned to J&J after Merck made its initial overtures. J&J passed on the chance to acquire the whole company, though, leaving Schering-Plough no choice but to act as if an offer from Merck was the answer to one of their most longstanding prayers.