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Roche studies job cuts in Europe and US

Roche chief executive Franz Humer studies the possibility of job cuts Keystone

The chairman and chief executive of the Roche healthcare group in Basel, Franz Humer, has spoken of possible job cuts in both Europe and the United States. In a report in the Swiss financial newspaper 'Finanz und Wirtschaft', Humer said Roche would announce results of a study of cost-cutting in its flagship drugs business at the end of this month or in June.

This content was published on May 9, 2001 - 14:44

Humer told the newspaper that the study was connected to possible job cuts on both sides of the Atlantic. "As soon as the teams have ended the work we will communicate the results," he said.

"At the same time we are taking an intensive look at the issue of how we can improve our growth in a lasting way," he added.

Roche has said it is looking to reduce costs in its drug business where sales have been disappointing and the product development pipeline has suffered a series of setbacks.

The drugs division employs nearly two thirds of the group's 65,000 strong workforce. Newspaper reports have suggested that as many as 5,000 to 8,000 jobs may be cut.

News of the possible redundancies followed Tuesday's announcement that the group's chief financial officer had been fired.

Roche said that Anton Affentranger would step down at the end of the month and his position would be temporarily filled by Bernd Wolff and Erwin Schneider.

Humer said that it was his decision to release Affentranger. "I respect Affentranger but, sometimes, the chemistry between certain people is just not there," he said.

He denied that the decision was influenced by Monday's surprise purchase of a 20 per cent stake in Roche by its cross-city rival, Novartis .

The chairman and chief executive of Novartis, Daniel Vasella, told 'Finanz und Wirtschaft' on Wednesday that a merger was "not up for discussion now and I would not like to bring it up for discussion".

He also told the newspaper that the two companies would be discussing concrete ways to cooperate further.

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