The inside scoop on Roche's integration of Genentech

If you'd been a fly on the wall at Roche and Genentech early this year, what would you have seen? Shock, anxiety and lots of quick decision-making, according to a behind-the-scenes story in the Financial Times.

As Genentech reeled from Roche's surprise hostile takeover, Sir John Bell, a non-executive director and Oxford professor, was dispatched to calm ruffled feathers. And Roche chief Severin Schwan (photo) hustled to make decisions, in an effort to offer at least some predictability and stability as the companies integrated. A new structure and new managers were put in place as quickly as possible--because, as Schwan said, "You have stability if you know who your boss is."

But Schwan deferred making a decision on long-term compensation at Genentech until 2011, and took time to figure out who'd be on his top executive team--a team he only recently announced. He tried to keep Genentech's head of product development, Susan Desmond-Hellman (photo), by giving her the job of reviewing "portfolio governance" at both companies, but she ultimately left to become chancellor of the University of California-San Francisco.

The FT article catalogs a host of changes at Genentech, including job cuts, restructuring, and marketing overhauls. And it lists some things that are promised to stay the same, such as the hiring of post-docs to work alongside Genentech scientists. Schwan told the paper that now, the word "integration" hardly even comes up.

- read the FT piece