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Is Roche In A Rush For Genentech?

Roche CFO's presentation at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference
CNBC.com
Roche CFO's presentation at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference

Not surprisingly it was standing room only in the grand ballroom of the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco for the Roche presentation this morning at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference .

You'd expect high interest after the "Financial Times" reported last Friday afternoon that the Swiss drugmaker is going to up its bid for Genentech.

Roche CFO Erich Hunziker didn't talk about that. But he did say, "We see very clearly that we will not touch innovation (at Genentech), but there's a lot of synergies we can win in this market."

He acknowledged the "fear" that Roche will "destroy" Genentech , especially here in the Bay Area where DNA is headquartered, but Hunziker said, "The cuts we will do at the Roche side are much tougher that what we will do at the Genentech side."

Overflow crowd at breakout roche session
CNBC.com
Overflow crowd at breakout roche session

The crowd for the Roche breakout session where the q and a takes place was so big I couldn't get in.

I found it curious that there were three bylines (reporter names) on the FT story, but no attribution whatsoever. No "a source familiar with the situation" or "according to people who are close to the negotiations," etc. I could never go on air without attributing that kind of information even to an anonymous source.

Anyway, Genentech CEO Art Levinson presents tomorrow at 5:30 ET. The company reports earnings after the closing bell this Thursday, so don't expect him to say much here tomorrow. Like Roche, Genentech has been pretty tight-lipped about all this.

At the time of DNA's presentation I will be on "Fast Money" for a live interview with athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush. ATHN is an electronic medical records company that hopes to benefit from President-elect Obama's plan to digitize all the doctors' paperwork.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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