German company Bayer has all but completed its takeover of specialty pharmaceutical concern Schering AG, holding 92.4% of the latter’s shares according to a statement released yesterday.

But Bayer failed to reach the 95% ownership that would have forced minority shareholders to part with their stakes. This means that while the integration of the companies can begin, Schering will remain listed on the Frankfurt DAX exchange as a separate entity for the time being.

Analysts cited by Reuters said a short delay in closing the acquisition would result, but that this would likely be insignificant. However, for Merck KGaA – which lost out in a bidding war to acquire Schering – the development could delay or even scupper its plans to replace Schering on the DAX.

The 17 billion-euro bid for Schering went right up to the wire, with only a last gasp deal between Bayer and Merck allowing it to go through. Merck had amassed a more-than-20% stake in the company, and only sold it to Bayer in return for certain cooperative arrangements - as well as a tidy profit of 400 million euros.

The Bayer/Schering deal creates a new company with 15 billion euros in annual sales and a pharmaceutical division - Bayer-Schering Pharmaceuticals - that will rank among the top 12 in the world. Combined pharmaceutical revenues would be around $10.8 billion.