READINGTON, NJ – A technology company founded in 1981 is under contract to purchase the former Merck & Co. headquarters complex here.

The news was announced by Readington Mayor Benjamin Smith at last night’s Township Committee meeting.

Merck decided to move its headquarters from the 25-year-old, 1 million square foot complex five years ago, and the complex has been mostly vacant since.

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The buyer is Unicom Global, which is now in the “due diligence phase” of the purchase, according to a social media post from Committeewoman Liz Duffy. The company is expected to close on the purchase in the first quarter of next year, she said.

In a speech made at last year’s township reorganization meeting, Smith said the Merck site is the single most highly assessed property in Hunterdon for property tax purposes.

According to its website, Unicom Global offers “integrated, comprehensive software and hardware solutions” internationally. It specializes in product procurement and system integration services; real estate and financial services; and mergers and acquisitions. Its corporate headquarters is in Los Angeles, and it has more than 25 international locations.

It’s welcome news to Marc Saluk, who is Hunterdon’s Economic Development Director.

“We’ll do whatever we can to help them succeed here,” Saluk said this afternoon. “The importance of a company that size, moving here, cannot be underestimated.”

For Saluk, the news is even better than it might appear to be at first glance, because of Unicom Global’s position in the technology industry.

“We’ve been trying to grow our innovation and technology sector in Hunterdon,” Saluk said. Working with local schools and industry, he hopes to develop career pathways, consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. An “incubator feasibility study” for the industry is planned for next year.

Should the Unicom Global deal be finalized, the company’s presence “could be a boost for tech jobs,” he said, something Saluk has tried to help jump start with HackHunterdon’s “Hackathon.”

The Hackathon will have its second annual 24-hour tech creation competition on June 9 and 10 next year. It is the joint effort of Saluk’s Office for Economic Development, the Hunterdon Chamber of Commerce and Flemington Community Partnership. It will be held at Hunterdon Central High School.

Dozens of technologists participated in the first hack Hunterdon event. New concepts were developed, and lasting relationships — a major goal of the initiative — were formed.

Saluk said Unicom Global’s international reach “has an added benefit beyond the company just locating here.”

A press spokesperson for Unicom Global wasn’t immediately available. The terms of the purchase haven’t yet been publically disclosed.