Genentech just might be safe with Roche

There's been lots of hand-wringing over Genentech's potential absorption into Roche. Would Genentech manage to keep its freewheeling, science-first culture? Would Genentech's top talent simply head for the exits?

Both Genentech and Roche have given credence to those worries, whether intentionally or not. Genentech instituted a retention bonus plan designed to keep its scientists and other talent around through negotiations and beyond. And Roche has repeatedly promised that it will do nothing--nothing!--to interfere with Genentech's record of success. Those promises, rather than soothing the worried, have seemed to further inflame their fears.

Today, however, the San Jose Mercury-News suggests that Roche's assurances should be taken at face value. After all, why would Roche want a dumbed-down, sucked-dry version of the great Genentech? "You would not go hostile if you thought Genentech would lose that," John McCamant, editor of the Medical Technology Stock Letter in Berkeley, told the Mercury News. Over the 18 years that it has held a controlling interest in Genentech, "Roche was smart enough to leave things alone."

What do you think? Will Roche be able to remain hands-off? Or will it be compelled to micromanage despite its vows?

- read the Mercury-News piece