Merck Appoints SPG as Seller for Serono Geneva Offices

Merck KGaA, the German drugmaker that’s closing the Geneva headquarters of its Serono unit, hired SPG Intercity to sell the building, the companies said.

SPG has received expressions of interest from companies and investors “from different regions of the world,” said Martin Dunning, chief executive officer of the Geneva-based real estate brokerage. He declined to identify any of the interested parties.

“It’s going to be subject to offers, so people have to do their due diligence and express a price for the property,” Dunning said in a telephone interview today.

Merck obtained the 725,000 square-foot (67,000 square-meter) building when it bought Serono from billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli for $13.3 billion in 2007. Construction was completed that year at a cost of $1.25 billion, according to Emporis GmbH, a Hamburg-based provider of building information.

Merck, based in Darmstadt, Germany, said in April that it planned to close the Geneva site, which will involve cutting 500 jobs and moving another 750. Serono has two headquarters that include research and development centers and Merck said it was too costly to keep both open.

Phyllis Carter, a spokeswoman for Merck, said the company plans to complete the relocation by the middle of next year. She declined to comment on a possible price or when the property might be sold.

Tilting Roof

The building, designed by architect Helmut Jahn , sits on a 6.5-acre (2.6-hectare) site overlooking Lake Geneva and features an atrium with a 10,800 square-foot glass-and-steel roof that tilts open to cool the space in warm weather, according to Architectural Record.

It also has a water wall in the lobby that humidifies the space in winter and allows for cooling in summer as well as a thermal exchange system that uses water pumped from Lake Geneva to provide 70 percent of the energy needed for heating and cooling.

The property could be used as it is or turned into a multi-tenant office complex, Dunning said.

“The first demand of the customer is to sell the property as is,” Dunning said. “They have laboratories that are built in, but they can be modified, so it’s not a serious issue. The building can be used for different types of operations and people.”

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