Roche Shifts Execs in Anticipation of Departures

Sep 09, 2009

Roche, on Tuesday, addressed its plan to bridge the executive leadership hole that will be left at year’s end when its pharma CEO William Burns, diagnostics CEO Juergen Schwiezer, and research head Jonathan Knowles all step down or retire from their positions.

Burns, the sole member of the trio not planning to retire, is making a bid for spot on Roche’s board of directors at next year’s annual meeting. The 23-year Roche veteran announced plans to vacate his position earlier this year.

In a move quite different from Merck’s executive blending with Schering-Plough, Roche is extending an olive branch to its recently purchased bio-giant Genetech, and making its CEO Pascal Soriot head chief operating officer of Roche’s pharma division, with control over all global pharmaceutical operations. The decision to go with Soriot seems to emphasize Roche’s plans to fully transition Genentech into Roche’s corporate structure.

“Following the conclusion of the Genentech integration, we will continue to bring innovative healthcare solutions to patients worldwide through a diversity of research approaches and efficient global development and commercialization,” stated Severin Schwan, CEO of the Roche Group. “This broadened and younger corporate executive committee will continue to drive Roche’s long term vision as the world’s leading biotech company.”

Rounding out the executive team will be Jean-Jacques Garaud, named head of pharma research and early development; Dan Zabrowski, appointed member of the enlarged executive committee; Daniel O'Day, appointed chief operating officer of the company's diagnostics division; and Ian Clark—a fellow Genentecher—named new CEO of Genentech.