Roche Still Gunning For Genentech


Shares of Swiss drugmaker Roche are trading significantly lower overseas and in over-the-counter activity here in the States after the company reported earnings.

But in the U.S., investors are less interested in Roche's numbers and the stock move than they are in what the company has to say about its now-hostile bid for Genentech .

At an investor presentation in London, Roche CEO Severin Schwan said in his opening remarks:

"As for Genentech, over the last seven months we have not succeeded to agree on a negotiated transaction. And that basically left us no other choice than to directly go to the minority shareholders. What we'd like to emphasize, however, is that this changes nothing, absolutely nothing, in the way we'd like to organize the combined orgnaization, the way we want to integrate the two businesses. We have an enormous respect for the Genentech organization and for what Genentech has achieved. We will keep research and early development, we will keep it as an independent center within the Roche group. It will not report into the Roche R & D structure."

I'm not sure how far his remarks will go to assuage fears to the contrary at Genentech HQ in South San Francisco. (That's an actual town, not the south side of San Francisco.)

Earlier on a conference call that took place while I was still asleep, Dow Jones reports out of Zurich that Roche's CFO Erich Hunziker said, "Please respect that we can't comment on the details (of the Genentech offer) before the official tender offer is out." He also said he's not in a hurry. "There's no schedule for the deal. Our analysis that looked at deals over the past 20 years revealed that taking a company private usually takes 12 months. But I'm not saying that that's what we plan for Genentech," DJ quotes Hunziker as saying.

The only commentary in the 36-page Roche earnings release comes in two sentences at the top of page four. "Following the proposed purchase of the outstanding Genentech shares, Roche expects that the transaction will have a positive impact on Core EPS (earnings per share) within the first year after closing. Roche will update its targets once the transaction has been closed." That sounds to me like they're committed and confident.

Finally, another plug. Please tune in to CNBC's "Squawk Box" this Friday morning around 7:15 a.m. ET for my live, one-on-one interview with Mr. Schwan.

This is his first CNBC U.S. interview since taking over the company and launching the bid for Genentech. Should be interesting.

DNA shares, by the way, are still trading well below the reduced Roche tender offer of $86.50. It originally bid $89 a share.

Questions? Comments?