Roche CFO: Deal's on track

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Roche may have soothed investors and placated Genentech folks with an announcement yesterday, but its own workforce could understandably be quaking in its collective boots.

Here's the story: At the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Roche CFO Erich Hunziker contended that "Everything is absolutely going on exactly as planned" with the Genentech deal, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. And while acknowledging that the financing environment is "very complex and "not very stable" at present, he appeared undaunted. "I think I don't look worn out. And I don't look pessimistic."

Okay, the deal's still considered a go, whether at a higher price as the Financial Times has reported (Hunziker wouldn't comment on that) or as previously offered. Hunziker also spoke to Genentech's future should Roche take over completely: The Swiss drugmaker would make Genentech one of its three main research centers, and Genentech would continue to have "a very high level of autonomy." Roche sees that Genentech's beauty lies in its innovative culture, and it doesn't want to "kill the hens that laid the golden eggs."

So the Genentech folks might say whew! But along with those assurances of autonomy came this zinger for Roche's own: Any staff cuts would be "much tougher" at Roche than they would at Genentech if the company decides to scale down. How many Roche-ians are now updating their resumes?

- see the Chronicle story
- read the story at BNet

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