No new cost-cutting, Roche chairman pledges

For Roche, 4,800 job cuts is enough. That's what Chairman Franz Humer told a Swiss newspaper over the weekend. Humer said the Basel-based company's current cost-squeezing program will suffice, despite the ongoing strength of the local currency and continuing pressure on drug prices abroad.

Announced last year, Roche's program of job cuts and other economizations is designed to pare back the company's cost structure enough to save 2.4 billion Swiss francs, or $2.6 billion, every year beginning in 2012. Humer said the currency's strength has hurt Roche less than other Swiss companies, but the drugmaker still needs to improve its productivity in Switzerland. "We don't need new programs ... but we will always pursue efficiency improvements," Humer told the NZZ am Sonntag (as quoted by Reuters).

So far, Roche hasn't been targeted by Swiss demonstrators worried about local jobs. Crosstown rival Novartis ($NVS), which said it would cut more than 1,000 positions from its operations in Switzerland, has drawn fire from union members and the youth branch of the Swiss Socialist Party. Representatives from the latter showed up at Chairman Daniel Vasella's house with a mock pink slip in protest.

- see the Reuters story