China is a 'big focus' for Roche, CEO says

  • Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, said that China is a "big focus" for the company, mainly in terms of pharmaceuticals.
  • In 2017, sales rose 5 percent and net income fell 9 percent.

The Swiss healthcare company Roche sees growing opportunities in China and has plans to increase its presence in the Asian market, the chief executive officer told CNBC Thursday.

Speaking after the release of the company's 2017 results, Severin Schwan, chief executive of Roche, told CNBC that China is a "big focus" for the company, mainly on the pharmaceutical side.

"China is getting more and more important for us. In diagnostics (China) is already the second most important market for us, it's still a bit smaller on the pharmaceutical side, but there is no doubt the market is strongly growing," Schwan said.

"We are investing in China and we want to make sure that we bring our solutions, diagnostic tests and medicines increasingly to patients in China," he added.

Roche announced Thursday a net income drop of 9 percent in 2017 as the Swiss drugmaker took charges for the impairment of goodwill and intangible assets as well as amortization of intangible assets.

IFRS net income dropped to 8.8 billion Swiss francs ($9.45 billion) from 9.7 billion francs a year earlier. Sales rose 5 percent to 53.3 billion francs, compared to the 53.2 billion francs average estimate in a Reuters poll of analysts.

"I'm extremely pleased with the results in 2017, the operating business is doing very well, sales are up 5 percent, core earnings are up 5 percent, but more importantly we made significant progress in our product pipeline," Schwan told CNBC.

— Reuters contributed to this report.