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FB Roundup: Dassault, Merck and Fortescue Metals Group

French billionaire Dassault faces trial For Tax Fraud; Merck wins hepatitis C drug patent claim; and Australian miner mulls new energy minerals

French billionaire Dassault faces trial For Tax Fraud

French billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault is to face trial on suspicion of hiding several million euros in Luxembourg and Liechstenstein, according to anonymous sources.

The 90-year-old billionaire is CEO of the Dassault Group, which holds a majority stake in commercial and military aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

It is not the first time Dassault has been in the media spotlight for questionable dealings: in 2014 his accountant claimed to investigators he had delivered €53 million in cash ($59.6 million) in plastic bags to Dassault over the years.

Dassault, which is 55% owned by the eponymous family and is in the second generation, has been hit by a decline in business-jet sales in recent years. The firm posted sales of $3.6 billion in 2014.

Merck wins hepatitis C drug patent claim

A federal judge has this week upheld the validity of two Merck patents that could force rival Gilead Sciences to hand over millions of dollars earned through its revolutionary hepatitis C drug.                                                                                                 

In a statement, Gilead spokeswoman Michele Rest said: “Although we are disappointed by the jury’s verdict today, there are a number of remaining issues to be decided by the jury and the judge.”

The founding Merck family owns around 70% of the pharmaceuticals business through its holding company E Merck KG. The firm has roots dating back to 1668 and is the oldest chemical and pharmaceutical company in the world.

Merck expects 2016 revenues to increase to $40.2 billion from $38.7 billion.

Australian miner mulls new energy minerals

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, the chairman of Australian family business Fortescue Metals Group, said his company is considering possible investments in renewable energy amid the transition in China’s economy.

"We are incredibly interested in lithium, graphite, copper. We are incredibly interested in renewables, in the recycling of nuclear waste,” Forrest told Bloomberg Television in an interview at the Boao Forum for Asia in Sanya, China. “But will we charge off in there without incredibly serious thought? No.”

Forrest, who founded the firm in 2003, is the world’s fourth-largest iron ore producer.

Fortescue Metals Group had revenues of $8.6 billion in 2015.

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