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Mar 5, 2013

Big Pharma Loses Another Leader: Roche Chairman to Retire

  • Long-time Roche chairman Franz B. Humer has decided not to run for re-election in 2014. Roche says it will nominate a successor for the chairmanship later this year. The successor will also serve as nonexecutive chairman, thus maintaining the firm’s established separation of the offices of chairman and CEO.

    “Roche is in excellent shape and well positioned to meet future challenges,” comments Humer. “This is a good time to hand over to a successor. I am looking forward to the next 12 months, and I intend to perform my duties as chairman with enthusiasm and drive.”

    Humer, 66, joined Roche in 1995 as a member of the board of directors as well as head of the pharmaceuticals division. The following year he became COO of F. Hoffmann-La Roche, and then in 1998 stepped up to CEO of Roche Holding. In 2001 he took on the additional role of chairman, and in 2008 he remained chairman but was succeeded as CEO by Severin Schwan, who still holds the position at present.

    Humer’s retirement announcement comes about six weeks after another big pharma leader’s long-time chairman stepped down. In late January, Daniel Vasella, M.D., resigned as chairman of Novartis, a position he had held since 1999, and left the company.

    “Novartis is solidly on course to navigate the volatility and uncertainties of today’s economic environment,” said Dr. Vasella at the time. “I am confident in the leadership of [CEO] Joe Jimenez and his top team, the company’s strategy with its commitment to innovation.”

    Jörg Reinhardt, Ph.D., former CEO of Bayer Healthcare, will be Novartis’ new chairman beginning August 1.

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