Merck & Co is setting up a new business services centre in Ireland which will lead to the creation of “150 high-quality jobs”.

The drug giant’s Merck Sharp & Dohme unit has chosen Dublin as the hub for its newly-established shared business services centre for its Europe, Middle East and Africa operations. The deal was announced by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen, who said it “is a strategic win for the life sciences sector in Ireland”.

Merck has already set up regional SBS centres for North and Latin America in North Carolina and for Asia Pacific in Singapore. The EMEA offices in Dublin will “support business transactions in the areas of finance, accounting and managed services such as travel and meetings”.

No financial details were disclosed but the company said that the centre “represents a significant investment”. MSD and recently-acquired Schering-Plough have had a presence in Ireland for more than four decades (investing over $2.2 billion) and the firm employs around 2,300 people in the country. It has seven separate sites in Cork, Carlow, Dublin, Tipperary and Wicklow.

Stacey Gelman, vice president of SBS at Merck, said that Dublin was selected “after careful consideration and evaluation of various options”. She added that Ireland has “an excellent business environment for the pharmaceutical and financial shared services industries”.

Ms Gelman went on to say that other factors for the decision include “the quality of Ireland’s educational system, quality of life, its highly-educated workforce with excellent language skills and its proximity to European markets”. Recruitment is scheduled to commence shortly.