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On Wednesday, July 26, Henry Wendt, chairman and chief executive officer of the SmithKline Beckman Co., appeared before the firm’s shareholders at an 8:30 A.M. meeting in the chandeliered ballroom of the Hotel Atop the Bellevue in Philadelphia. Standing before a huge transparency displaying two hands clasping one another, Wendt urged the shareholders to approve a merger with the giant British drug firm Beechain Group PLC. Minutes later, 99% of the voting shareholders created SmithKline

Ken Kalfus
Sep 17, 1989

On Wednesday, July 26, Henry Wendt, chairman and chief executive officer of the SmithKline Beckman Co., appeared before the firm’s shareholders at an 8:30 A.M. meeting in the chandeliered ballroom of the Hotel Atop the Bellevue in Philadelphia. Standing before a huge transparency displaying two hands clasping one another, Wendt urged the shareholders to approve a merger with the giant British drug firm Beechain Group PLC. Minutes later, 99% of the voting shareholders created SmithKline Beecham, the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world.

The ranking lasted exactly one day. On Thursday, Squibb Corp. and Bristol-Myers Co. announced that they would be forming the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, its combined $4.2 billion in pharmaceutical sales in 1988 trailing Merck & Co. Inc.’s $5.9 billion. The combined pharmaceutical sales of SmithKline Beckman and Beecham in 1987 were about $4 billion.

These mergers open up worldwide markets for drugs...

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