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(Bloomberg) -- Roche Holding AG Chairman Christoph Franz said the impact of Switzerland abandoning its franc cap has been “substantially mitigated” for the Swiss drugmaker.
“In the case of Roche, there is a particular influence of the exchange rate -- the earthquake we had last week,” Franz said in an interview today at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Less than 20 percent of Roche’s costs are in francs, he said. “There is some effect, but at the end of the day it’s a limited effect.”
Roche shares have lost 15 percent since Switzerland’s central bank on Jan. 15 unexpectedly scrapped its three-year-old policy of capping the franc at 1.20 euros. The stock fell almost 3.2 percent today to 240.10 francs as of 1:12 p.m. in Zurich.
While the strength of the franc will be taken into account for decisions about whether to set up or expand research facilities, Franz played down the idea that it will force Roche to increase recruitment outside the company’s base in the northwestern Swiss city of Basel.
“In the case of scientists, you have to keep them happy,” Franz said. “Bringing the best scientists to our research facilities is probably a more ambitious task at the end of the day than dealing with an exchange rate change.”
The weakening of the Russian ruble because of economic sanctions tied to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has also hurt sales in what was, in 2013, the company’s third-biggest emerging market after China and Brazil.
“We had a very substantial devaluation of the ruble, and we also are confronted with a situation that budgets in Russia are less abundant,” Franz said. “It is probably a less profitable business now. There is a hit, but the volume of business we are doing in Russia compared with the overall volume of business we are doing is a tiny fraction.”
Franz, 54, has been chairman of Roche since May last year after spending most of his career in the aviation industry, most recently as chairman and chief executive officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
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