LONDON, April 11 Swiss drugmaker Roche
has no plans to change its holding in Japan's Chugai
Pharmaceutical and the recent weakening of the yen
would not be a reason to trigger such a move.
Asked if Roche might raise its stake in Chugai, Roche CEO
Severin Schwan told analysts on Thursday: "We don't see changes
in the structural set-up ... currency fluctuations would not
drive such strategic M&A decisions."
Chugai became a subsidiary of Roche in 2002 and the Swiss
group currently owns 59.9 percent of the company. There has been
speculation that Roche might look to take complete ownership of
Chugai, as it did with the buyout of U.S. biotech group
Genentech in 2009.
Schwan, however, said the situation with Chugai was "very
different", adding there was a different arrangement of
contracts between the two companies and Roche had already
restructured its operations in Japan to remove duplication.
Roche paid $47 billion to buy the portion of Genentech it
did not already own four years ago and since then has repaid 66
percent of the debt related to the deal.
Chugai is a significantly smaller business, with a total
market capitalisation of around $13.5 billion.
Roche earlier reported a 5 percent rise in first-quarter
sales, driven by strong demand for its cancer drugs and a spike
in revenue from flu drug Tamiflu due to a severe U.S. flu
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)