Merck KGaA (EMD Chemicals in the U.S. and Canada, FWB: MRK) is a German chemical and pharmaceutical company. Merck, also known as “German Merck” and “Merck Darmstadt”, was founded in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1668, making it the world's oldest operating chemical and pharmaceutical company.
The company was privately owned until going public in 1995. However, the Merck family still controls a majority (≈70 %) of the company's shares. Following World War I, Merck lost possession of its foreign sites, including the Merck & Co. subsidiary in the United States. Merck & Co., called Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) outside the US and Canada, is now an independent company.
Merck KGaA operates mainly in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Since Merck & Co. holds the rights to the Merck name in the U.S. and Canada, the company operates under the umbrella brand EMD Chemicals in North America, formed from the initials of Emanuel Merck, Darmstadt.