Roche's Humer said to have had Genentech buy doubts
NEW YORK, April 14 |
NEW YORK, April 14 (Reuters) - Roche Chairman Franz Humer, the driving force behind the company's acquisition of the 44 percent of Genentech it did not already own, apparently did not always think that was good idea.
David Mott, who was chief executive of MedImmune when it was acquired by AstraZeneca (AZN.L), said on Tuesday that he had sought Humer's advice in 2007 as Mott pondered his future with AstraZeneca shortly after that $15.6 billion deal was announced.
"Our model is a lot like your model with Genentech. We're going to have an independent operating entity and run it that way," Mott recalled telling Humer of his integration plan.
"He laughed at me and he said, 'it will never work because if we owned all of Genentech we would kill it'," Mott said Humer told him at the time.
"'We wouldn't be able to resist tinkering and playing with it and AZ owns all of you, so they say it's going to be independent but we'd never be able to have that discipline,'" Mott said, quoting Humer.
Mott, who left AstraZeneca a year later, was speaking on a panel at the Windhover Pharmaceutical Strategic Outlook conference at a New York hotel when he related his anecdote about the then CEO of Roche Holding AG (ROG.VX). Mott is currently general partner of venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates.
Roche now believes it can resist the kind of tinkering that might kill the golden goose.
Current Roche management, including Humer and new CEO Severin Schwan, have insisted they will preserve the informal California science-based culture at Genentech that has produced a remarkable number of innovative and lucrative medicines.
The nearly $47 billion deal made sense for Roche as it not only gives it full U.S. revenue from Genentech's multibillion-dollar cancer drugs, such as Avastin and Herceptin, but fills out what had been a rather sparse developmental pipeline for the Swiss drugmaker.
Following the panel discussion on the ability of biotech companies to survive within big pharmaceutical companies, Mott was asked what he thought Humer might tell him today about Roche owning all of Genentech.
"That it's going to work," Mott said with a chuckle. "It's pretty interesting with hindsight, isn't it?" (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
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