Merck KGaA, a maker of pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals, has launched a hostile takeover bid for Berlin based rival Schering.

Schering's shares surged almost 30% on the news, on the Frankfurt market after the news, closing 27% higher at €84.59.

Merck said it was offering €14.6 billion to buy Schering, a world leader in contraceptives and fertility drugs, in a bid to become one of the leading pharmaceutical groups in Europe.

Merck, which already holds 4.98% in Schering, insisted that its offer was attractive, representing a premium of 35% over the average price of Schering shares in the last three months.

Merck specialises in generic drugs and cancer treatments such as its Erbitux drug and Schering, fertility drugs, and also makes the MS drug Betaferon.

The combined group would be one of the biggest pharmaceuticals companies in Germany and would rank number 14 in the world.