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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

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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