A very earnest, if naïve (and star-struck) part-time writer at LifeScience Leader.com apparently published the substance of his one-on-one conversation with Ex-Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan while I was off-the-grid. And so, forgive me for so-belatedly bringing you news of this February 8, 2011 "knee-pads required" interview.
It takes on renewed currency however, given that late last week, New Merck announced that there would be no intact buyer for the legacy Organon Netherlands R&D operations -- thus precipitating some 2,400 future firings. [The above right slide (click to enlarge) was undoubtedly jointly discussed, and vetted, prior to July 30, 2009 -- by then Schering (and Organon) CEO Hassan, Merck CEO Clark and the CEO of Sanofi. It plainly contemplated Organon-related "synergies" -- at least in the Animal Health portion of those businesses. Don't kid yourself -- Hassan was very-likely the chief architect of the Organon headcount reductions, in both Womens' Health and Animal Health. CEO Clark just executed the jointly-developed plan, in all likelihood.] Evidence?
Note that -- ever the oleaginous snake -- Mr. Hassan completely turns the focus, by deftly solicitous questionings of the author, about how the earlier Organon layoffs were handled, from the author's perspective -- thus deflecting all attentioon from his Hassan's central role in the decision. Hassan knew that it would so flatter the author, that he would forget to ask any "hard" questions of Hassan. Questions like (if you thought it could have been handled better) "What did you mean when you showed the slide at right, back in July 2009, to a largely-suppine Wall Street analysts audience?"
Note additionally that -- with the passace of a year and a half -- Mr. Hassan has (in his internal dialogue, at least) been able to remove all memory of his role in shaping the layoffs, prior to the November 3, 2009 final closing date of the bust-up transaction. In any event, here is a bit of the decidedly star-struck author's posting (do go read it all):
. . . .After Fred conducted his presentation, I had the opportunity to speak with him personally and it was anything but “vanilla”. You see, both Fred and I were employed by Schering-Plough (SP) prior to the merger with Merck. He at the highest level and me, well, not quite so high. I was a member of Organon Biosciences, which was purchased by SP. We discussed this acquisition, as well as the merger with Merck. I told him I was let go during the latter. He said he had heard about the layoff and began asking me questions about the process. He asked me if I knew why the decision was made to cut so many of the SP women’s healthcare sales team. I informed him that it appeared to be a result of Merck believing that the sales growth opportunity lied with Gardasil, a Merck product, and not Nuva Ring and Implanon, which were SP products. As a result, all of the Gardasil sales representatives were retained.
Imagine my surprise to see him shake his head and comment to me, very candidly, that he sees this happen all the time. The acquiring company thinks its products and people are superior to the ones being acquired. If that is the case then why are you acquiring the company? His final words were, “I think that could have been handled better.” I agree the process of who to keep and why during a major merger can always be improved. . . .
WAIT! -- Fred Hassan "sees" this "happen all the time"? No. . . he presides over, and engineers these occurences -- All. The. Time.
What an odd and misshapen little gnome Mr. Hassan has revealed himself to be. Note that the whole goal of Fast Fred's little diversion was to blame New Merck management for the Organon situation (one which he clearly created, and then simply endorsed decimating, with the stroke of a pen -- as the bust-up worked its way toward closure, in the Summer of 2009). Rather than acknowledge that he had only a scant idea of what he was doing, from a strategic-standpoint -- when he himself bought Organon just a few years earlier, in late 2008.
Astonishing -- or not so, I guess -- given this.