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Merck courting multiple buyers as it mulls future of Kenilworth property

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Signage at Merck's Whitehouse Station headquarters.
Signage at Merck's Whitehouse Station headquarters. - ()

Merck & Co. said it's in discussion with potential buyers in both the private and government sectors for a series of manufacturing buildings that will close Oct. 1 as result of the pharmaceutical's company consolidation.

Company spokeswoman Lainie Keller said via e-mail the company is talking to businesses and municipal and county government agencies, and is exploring potential uses for the Kenilworth buildings. The company declined to disclose further details.

Merck formally notified the state Labor Department July 26 that it was laying off 113 production and administrative workers at its Galloping Hill Road tablet making plant, part of a previously announced consolidation of the company's global manufacturing. Keller said operations there have moved to other Merck facilities, primarily Cleveland, Tenn.

Keller said the Kenilworth division otherwise continues to be an important research location for Merck, "where operations are continuing and expanding."

Merck acquired the Kenilworth properties after its acquisition of Schering-Plough in 2009, a purchase followed by a restructuring program. The realignment includes a plan to move Merck's corporate headquarters to Summit, from its current base in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington, in 2015.

Employees affected by the Kenilworth closure include those represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 15.

Union members will be eligible for severance pay and benefits according to the company severance plan, a notice filed with the state Labor Department said. Those not belonging to the union will be eligible for the COBRA health benefits for a certain period.

Reporter Tom Zanki is @BizTZanki on Twitter.

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