Higher Genentech bid, bigger exodus?

Would a bigger bid for Genentech just induce more scientists there to exit out the back door as Roche comes in the front? That's one of the questions arising about this potential mega-merger. In fact, evidence is starting to validate some early doubts about the match: Namely, that Roche might be unable to preserve Genentech's innovative culture, or, at the very least, that fears about losing that research-friendly feeling would send top talent packing.

Here's the worst-case scenario, according to bNet. A bunch of Genentech employees don't want to work for a big company like Roche, period (just check the boards at CafePharma for an unrepresentative sampling). But, more importantly, many scientists there have options that would fully vest in a Roche buyout, which would give them the money to leave. And it's not tough to get venture capital for startups with Genentech scientists at the helm, giving them even more financial incentive.

BNet does the math, and even at around $100, a Roche bid would offer some longtime Genentechers nice chunks of cash. And obviously, the higher the bid, the bigger those buyouts get. Recruiters and VCs have drawn up wish lists of coveted Genentech staffers and have been "ringing their phones off the hook," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

But consider this, too: Roche will want to keep as many key players as it can. So a buyout could actually be a chance for those standouts to renegotiate a fatter pay package, bank their options money and see how things play out. The recruiters and VCs aren't likely to lose interest.

--read the BNet post
--see the San Francisco Chronicle story
--check out Derek Lowe's take at In the Pipeline

Genentech sets aside $371M in retention bonuses