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Family Business Roundup: Merck, and Pirelli, and Dassault

By Michael Finnigan

Merck deputy chief Oschmann to become CEO

German pharmaceutical company Merck, 70% owned by the eponymous founding family, will promote deputy chief executive Stefan Oschmann to the top job next year, according to Manger Magazin.

The 57-year-old will reportedly take on the new role after the group's annual shareholder meeting in 2016, when current CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley's current contract expires.

Merck recently agreed to acquire American biochemical firm Sigma-Aldrich, the biggest takeover in its history, and plans to close the $17 billion deal in the middle of this year.

The purchase of Sigma-Aldrich is expected to double Merck's life science business to a total of $5.1 billion, narrowing the gap to market leader Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Merck posted revenues of $42.2 billion in 2014 and has approximately 70,000 employees on its books.

China National Chemical Corp to buy Pirelli for $7.7 billion

A subsidiary of Chinese chemical company China National Chemical Corp will reportedly make a takeover bid for Italian family-owned tyre manufacturer Pirelli.

As part of the $7.7 billion deal, China National Chemical subsidiary ChemChina will pay out around $1.9 billion to buy a 26% stake in Camfin, the investment vehicle owned by Pirelli chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera.

Tronchetti Provera is currently chairman of Pirelli – the world's fifth largest tyre maker – but also has a connection to the founding family. He is the ex-husband of founder Giovanni Battista Pirelli's great-granddaughter Cecilia Pirelli.

The deal will give China, the largest auto market in the world, control of one of the world's top tire brands. The partnership will also strengthen Pirelli's presence in China and it is thought the deal could double its sales volume.

Last year, Russian oil company Rosneft invested about $549 million for its 50% of Camfin.

Airbus sells stake in Dassault Aviation

Airbus has raised €1.64 billion ($1.81 billion) from the sale of shares in Dassault Aviation, the French family-owned aerospace company that last week posted a 38% drop in net profit for 2014.

The sale almost halves Airbus's stake from 42% to 24.6%.

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. Deliveries will decline again this year, with 65 business jets and eight Rafale aircraft due to be delivered to customers.

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