Published March 05, 2013
ZURICH – Roche's influential Chairman Franz Humer said on Tuesday he will not stand for re-election next year when he will have served 16 years at the helm of the Swiss drugmaker as chief executive and chairman.
"Roche is in excellent shape and well positioned to meet future challenges. This is a good time to hand over to a successor," Humer, 66, said in a surprise announcement at the company's annual general meeting in Basel.
Roche said it would nominate a successor in the autumn and said his successor would also serve as non-executive chairman to keep the offices of chairman and chief executive separate.
Humer, who has joint Swiss and Austrian citizenship, is a pharmaceutical veteran and was the driving force behind Roche's acquisition of U.S. biotech company Genentech, which has produced some of the company's top-selling cancer medicines.
Born in Austria in 1946, Humer studied law at Innsbruck university and started his career in pharmaceuticals as a general manager at Schering Plough in 1973.
He worked at Glaxo Holdings from 1981 to 1995, when he joined Roche as head of the pharmaceuticals division. He rose to chief operating officer in 1996 and chief executive two years later.
From 2001 he held the joint role of CEO and chairman until fellow Austrian Severin Schwan took over as CEO in 2008.
"I don't see Humer's exit having much influence on Roche's strategy. His prot��g�� Schwan, who will join the board as well, represents the values Humer has pursued in the past, so I don't see much change," said Kepler analyst Martin Voegtli.
A patron of opera, Humer is also non-executive chairman of spirits group Diageo, a member of the boards of Citigroupand Allianz, and chairman of business school INSEAD.
The decision comes after Daniel Vasella, the chairman of cross-town rival Novartis, said in January he would step down from his role after 17 years at the head of the company.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley, additional reporting by Katharina Bart in Zurich, editing by Emma Thomasson)