Alan Hippe to Leave ThyssenKrupp, Will Join Roche as CFO in April

17.01.2011 -

Outgoing ThyssenKrupp finance chief Alan Hippe will take up the same position at Roche Holding, replacing Erich Hunziker as the Swiss drugmaker implements cost cuts after a series of pipeline setbacks.

Hippe will join Roche as a member of the corporate executive committee in April, Roche said in a statement on Monday, as the group brings in another expert familiar with a hard business environment.

The pharmaceutical sector is facing tough times as companies struggle with price pressures, patent expiries on top-selling drugs, more competition from biosimilars - copycat versions of complex biotech medicines -and difficulties in getting new drugs to the market.

Roche, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs, is seeking to hack 2.4 billion Swiss francs ($2.5 billion) from annual costs from 2012 onwards with 1.8 billion francs of savings expected from this year after a spate of product disappointments.

"The gentleman comes from the steel and engineering industry, where he is used to dealing with more pressured margins," one analyst said. "He knows how to deal with a critical environment. The question is whether this is a necessary skill at the moment."

The analyst added that Hunziker's departure had been expected.

Industry Heavyweights
Hippe's appointment comes after Roche said industry heavyweights Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser and Lufthansa head Christoph Franz would stand for election to its board.

Hippe, 44, joined Europe's largest stainless steel maker in April 2009 after his success in repairing the business of automotive supplier Continental.

He swiftly came to grips with the new plants' spiraling costs, endearing him to many in the investment community, and was seen as a frontrunner for the top job at ThyssenKrupp, but the company picked outsider Heinrich Hiesinger from Siemens. Analysts like Hippe's open communications style and the high level of detail in his financial reports.

Hunziker, a Swiss national, has held the CFO position at Roche since 2001 and under his reign Roche gained credit ratings with Standards & Poors and Moody's, helping the group to finance its $46.8 billion buyout of Genentech under more favorable conditions during the financial crisis. Hunziker, born in 1953, will now focus on a number of board memberships.

Roche is trying to rebuild confidence in its pipeline after a series of drug setbacks last year and growing concerns about the threat of cut-price competition from so-called biosimilars to key cancer drugs that could kick in from 2014 in Europe.



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