Roche Holding AG’s founding families want the Swiss drugmaker to stay independent, Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan said, squelching speculation that circulated since a board member at crosstown rival Novartis AG said last month a merger could make sense.
“Nothing has changed with regards to Roche’s position towards Novartis,” Schwan said in a conference call with reporters today. “The families Hoffmann and Oeri have repeatedly stated they’re committed to Roche’s independence.”
Novartis board member Pierre Landolt said a merger could make sense “from an objective point of view” in a September interview with Basler Zeitung. The newspaper, based in Basel, also the home of both Swiss drugmakers, quoted Landolt as saying that combining the companies would make a European “pharmaceutical champion.”
Schwan has told investors Roche may make smaller deals to strengthen its core diagnostics and pharmaceutical businesses. In a Bloomberg interview in September, he predicted Roche will buy companies worth less than $1 billion, with a bigger deal comparable to the $3.4 billion purchase of Ventana Medical Systems Inc. in 2008 occurring from “time to time.”
Roche isn’t into “mega-mergers,” the executive repeated in a teleconference with investors today. “We are firmly committed to bolt-on acquisitions.”
Novartis holds 33 percent of