In the Healthcare business sector, we accompany people in every phase of their life and help them to shape, improve, and prolong it. We enable personalized treatments for serious illnesses and help many couples to realize their wish to have children. The digital platform and the products and services in our Life Science business sector make precision research simpler and help to speed up scientific breakthroughs. They enable quicker access to healthcare and ensure that analyses are accurate and medications are trustworthy. The developments we make in our Performance Materials business sector sit inside the technologies that are changing the way we use information and shaping our future. They make mobility safer, houses and devices more intelligent, and technologies more sustainable.
Everything we do is fueled by a belief in science and technology as a force for good - a belief that has driven our work since 1668, and will continue to inspire us to find more joyful and sustainable ways to live. We are curious minds dedicated to human progress.
We hold the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States. In these countries, we operate as EMD Serono in the biopharmaceutical business, as MilliporeSigma in the life science business, and as EMD Performance Materials (now EMD Electronics) in the high-tech materials business.
Apart from our three business sectors, our financial reporting presents five regions: Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. As of December 31, 2020, we had 58,127 employees worldwide. This compares with 57,071 employees as of December 31, 2019.
In 2020, our 221 subsidiaries with employees in 66 countries generated sales of € 17.5 billion. Our 100 production sites are located across 21 countries.
Merck comprises three business sectors: Healthcare, Life Science, and Performance Materials. As of March 2021, we changed the name of the Performance Materials business sector to Electronics.
Healthcare discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets innovative pharmaceutical and biological prescription drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), infertility, growth disorders, and certain cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Healthcare operates in four franchises: Neurology and Immunology, Oncology, Fertility, and General Medicine & Endocrinology. Our R&D pipeline positions us with a clear focus on becoming a global specialty innovator in oncology, immuno-oncology, neurology, and immunology. On March 31, 2020 Merck divested its allergy business Allergopharma to Dermapharm Beteiligungs GmbH, Grünwald, Germany.
In Life Science, with our Research Solutions, Process Solutions, and Applied Solutions business units, we are a leading worldwide supplier of tools, high-grade chemicals, and equipment for academic labs, biotech, and biopharmaceutical manufacturers, as well as the industrial sector. Research Solutions provides our academic customers with the chemicals and biological tools needed to make scientific discovery easier and faster. Process Solutions provides drug manufacturers with process development expertise and technologies, such as continuous bioprocessing. Applied Solutions offers analytical workflows and both lab connectivity and digitization solutions to empower the labs of the future. Our complete portfolio comprises more than 300,000 products, ranging from lab water systems to genome-editing tools, antibodies, and cell lines, as well as end-to-end bioprocessing systems to support the manufacturing needs of both emerging biotech and large pharma companies. We have and will continue to play a critical role in aiding the ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting our customers working on combatting the novel virus through our products, services, and expertise.
Performance Materials is advancing digital living. Our main focus is on the electronics market with our materials and solutions changing the way we generate, access, store, process, and display information. In addition, our highly specialized, application-driven Surface Solutions business makes life more colorful. Together with our customers, we are discovering the next generation of high-tech materials and solutions. With strong growth trends such as 5G and Big Data, and new applications such as autonomous driving and Internet of Things (IoT), we have set the course for future growth.
The business sector consists of three business units: Semiconductor Solutions, Display Solutions and Surface Solutions. We offer innovative solutions especially for the electronics industry - for microchips and displays - and for surfaces of every kind.
With the completion of the Intermolecular and Versum Materials acquisitions, we achieved two major milestones to transform Performance Materials into a strong solutions provider and leading player in the electronic materials market. Effective March 4, 2021, we changed the name of the Performance Materials business sector to Electronics. The new name is the visible result of the strategic realignment conducted over the past several years.
Based in Darmstadt, Germany, our company operates in the legal form of a corporation with general partners (Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien – KGaA). The general partner E. Merck KG holds around 70% of the total capital of Merck KGaA (equity interest); the shareholders hold the remainder, which is divided into shares (share capital). Our shares have been included in the DAX® 30, the blue-chip index of the Deutsche Börse, since 2007. In September 2008, our company was added to the FTSE4Good Index, a sustainability index that assesses the social, ecological and ethical conduct of companies.
Over the past years, Merck has grown significantly through a series of strategic moves that have enabled us to develop into a vibrant science and technology company. We have systematically and continuously strengthened and focused our portfolio of innovative science and technology throughout our business sectors.
With our Group strategy, we want to become the vibrant science and technology company. By 2022, we aim to have strong, innovative science- and technology-focused business sectors with leadership positions in our areas. We want to be a top-tier company in relation to our peers in terms of sales growth and margin, and we aim to continue to deliver sustainable returns to our owners.
We are now in the growth and expansion phase of our strategy and are well on track. Following the Versum Materials acquisition in 2019, we are giving priority to organic growth while rapidly lowering our debt and pursuing a sustainable culture of cost consciousness until 2022. We do not rule out making large transformative deals, yet in light of our strong business portfolio, it is more likely that we will complement our businesses through a number of small to medium-sized acquisitions after 2022.
To achieve our strategic ambition of becoming the vibrant science and technology company, we focus on our three Group-wide priorities: Performance, People, and Technology. Additionally, we are embedding the topic of sustainability into our Group strategy as an essential component. Through our business activities, we want to be economically successful and create value for society. At the same time, we endeavor to avoid generating subsequent costs for society.