Schering AG’s chief executive, Hubertus Erlen, has been quick to dampen down speculation that his firm could be the subject of a takeover from Swiss company Novartis.

Speaking to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Mr Erlen said: “I do not comment on speculation as a matter of principle,” but swiftly added that he is concentrating on making Schering a successful company and “the best guarantee for that is to stay independent.”

This stance echoed the CEO’s recent statement to shareholders, when he said that the Berlin-based group was about to enter a phase of organic growth at a time when its peers in the pharmaceutical industry would be hampered by a less forgiving operating environment [[28/06/05d]]. Furthermore, Mr Erlen told the newspaper that Schering itself is on the lookout for potential targets to buy, adding that the firm has a couple of acquisition options.

Rumours about a link-up with Novartis are not new and seem to stem from the fact that the two companies co-develop the novel cancer drug, PTK/ZK, which has suffered a clinical setback recently [[28/07/05b]]. However, given the money Novartis has spent recently on buying generics firms Hexal [[07/06/05e]] and Eon Labs [[21/07/05f]], any purchase in the near future seems doubtful.