Merck recently announced a shakeup- again. Yeah, yeah, but this time they really mean it. In response, a commenter at In the Pipeline wrote this Onionesque report:
Subject: FW: Merck in the News
MERCK TO CUT WORKFORCE 120 PERCENT
NEW YORK, N.Y. (AP.com) – Merck will reduce its workforce by an
unprecedented 120 percent by the end of 2013, believed to be the first
time a major corporation has laid off more employees than it actually
Merck stock soared more than 12 points on the news.
The reduction decision, announced Wednesday, came after a year-long
internal review of cost-cutting procedures. The initial report concluded
the company would save $1.2 billion by eliminating 20 percent of its
From there, said a spokesperson, “it didn’t take a genius to figure out
that if we cut 40 percent of our workforce, we’d save $2.4 billion, and
if we cut 100 percent of our workforce, we’d save $6 billion. But then
we thought, why stop there? Let’s cut another 20 percent and save $7
“We believe in increasing shareholder value, and we believe that by
decreasing expenditures, we enhance our competitive cost position and
our bottom line,” he added.
Merck plans to achieve the 100 percent internal reduction through
layoffs, attrition and early retirement packages. To achieve the 20
percent in external reductions, the company plans to involuntarily
downsize 17,000 non-Merck employees who presently work for other
“We pretty much picked them out of a hat,”.
Among firms Merck has picked as “External Reduction Targets,” or ERTs,
are Quaker Oats, AMR Corporation, parent of American Airlines, Lockheed,
Boeing, and Charles Schwab & Co. Merck’s plan presents a “win-win” for
the company and ERTs, said the Merck spokesperson, as any savings by
ERTs would be passed on to Merck, while the ERTs themselves would benefit by the increase in
stock price that usually accompanies personnel cutback announcements.
“We’re also hoping that since, over the years, we’ve been really helpful
to a lot of companies, they’ll do this for us kind of as a favor,”.
Legally, pink slips sent out by Merck would have no standing at ERTs
unless those companies agreed. While executives at ERTs declined to
comment, employees at those companies said they were not inclined to
“This is ridiculous. I don’t work for Merck. They can’t fire me,” said
Kaili Blackburn, a flight attendant with American Airlines.
Reactions like that, replied the Merck spokesperson “are not very
Inspiration for Merck’s plan came from previous cutback initiatives,
said company officials. In January of 2005, for instance, the company
announced it would trim 15,000 jobs over two years. However, just a year
later, Merck said it had already reached its quota. “We were quite
surprised at the number of employees willing to leave Merck in such a
hurry, and we decided to build on that,”.
Analysts credited the short-term vision, noting that the announcement
had the desired effect of immediately increasing Merck’s share value.
However, the long-term ramifications could be detrimental, said Morgan Stanley analyst Beldon McInty.
“It’s a little early to tell, but by eliminating all its employees,
Merck may jeopardize its market position and could, at least
theoretically, cease to exist,” said McInty.
The spokesperson, however, urged patience: “To my knowledge, this hasn’t
been done before, so let’s just wait and see what happens.”
I laughed at first and then thought, that’s pretty much how they do it.
Well, at least the guy who wrote that has a future at some satirical online newspaper.