Merck KGaA has pointed out some fundamental flaws in a Financial Times Deutschland article which claimed that the company did not follow the correct disclosure procedures during a conference call with analysts.
The FT article noted that Merck's chief financial officer Michael Becker provided financial information to what it claimed was “a small group of analysts” last week, which could lead to an investigation by Germany's financial regulator, BaFin. According to the newspaper, Mr Becker told seven analysts that Merck KGaA's turnover increased 42% to 3.7 billion euros in the first five months of the year, and that operating profit was up 23% to 579 million euros. The FT also claims that Mr Becker reportedly requested that the analysts not reveal the figures to clients.
Merck moved quickly to point out some basic errors in the FT report, and spokeswoman Phyllis Carter told PharmaTimes World News that for starters, the figure of seven analysts is way off the mark given that 140 of them participated in the conference call. Also Powerpoint presentations were sent out to over 1,000 other people working on the capital markets.
Ms Carter pointed out that the reason for the conference call was to help
analysts with their financial models in the wake of the Darmstadt-based group’s recent acquisition of Serono. Also the newspaper based its report on just one slide and the figures used there actually referred to synergies from the Serono deal and were being used for “purely illustrative purposes”. The presentation by Mr Becker was dealing with matters of “really high finance”, she added, and therefore it was not appropriate for journalists to be involved in the call. By Kevin Grogan