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Roche makes key Genentech appointments

Following its takeover of Genentech last month, Roche has appointed its corporate executive as CEO of Genentech

Following its takeover of Genentech last month, Roche has appointed its corporate executive, Pascal Soriot, as chief executive of Genentech. He replaces Arthur Levinson, who has been offered a seat on its governing board of directors.

Roche has also announced that Genentech president, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, will leave her post and take an advisory role.

All the positions are effective from May 1.

Pascal Soriot will run Roche Pharma North America and Genentech from headquarters in South San Francisco, reporting to Roche CEO, Severin Schwan.

Levinson will run a board overseeing Genentech as a Roche subsidiary and will have other advisory roles. Roche will also nominate Levinson to serve on its corporate board in 2010.

In a bid to retain Genentech's scientific talent, Roche said research director, Richard Scheller, will continue to run Genentech's early discovery unit and become a member of Roche's executive committee. Genentech executive, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, has been appointed chief scientific officer in South San Francisco, reporting to Scheller.

Genentech was founded in 1976 and was among the pioneering biotech firms. Roche has long had an interest in the company, first investing in it in 1990 and 1995, in return for options to acquire a larger stake later.

In 1999, Roche acquired Genentech in a $3.7bn deal and then gave it back its independent identity and board of directors through an initial public offering that left Roche with majority ownership.

In July, Roche offered $89 per share to take full control of Genentech, but was forced to increase that to the successful $95 per share offer that completed in March.

15th April 2009

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