SWITZERLAND — Roche has appointed Thomas Schinecker as the new group chief executive, the company has announced, replacing Severin Schwan whom the pharmaceuticals giant has nominated to be its next chairman.
The move caps a rapid rise for Schinecker, who joined Roche’s management development program in 2003 and was previously head of the company’s diagnostics division.
He will replace CEO Severin Schwan, who has led a successful years-long campaign to diversify away from Roche’s traditional focus on cancer.
The changes, effective after Roche’s annual general meeting on March 14, 2023, see the end of Schwan’s 14-year tenure as CEO.
But the moves, first announced earlier this year, would not mean any shift in the strategic weight of the diagnostics and the pharmaceuticals businesses, Schwan said in July.
Under Schinecker’s leadership, the company’s diagnostics business expanded significantly as a result of its COVID-19 test kits, which included PCD-test kits obtained through Roche’s acquisition of long-term partner TIB Molbiol of Germany.
According to Roche, the acquisition will allow the company to expand its diagnostic portfolio by identifying existing pathogens as well as those that may become a global threat in the future.
Roche also acquired GenMark Diagnostics, one of the first companies to receive regulatory approval for a COVID-19 test, under his leadership.
These acquisitions bolstered Roche’s COVID-19 tests, including the Elecsys IL-6 test, which measures IL-6 (interleukin-6), and the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test.
But the onus will be on Schinecker to reinvigorate the development pipeline after family-controlled Roche this year ran into a string of development setbacks: A keenly-followed Alzheimer’s drug trial failed last month and a new lung cancer immunotherapy candidate flopped in May.
As previously announced in July 2022, Christoph Franz has decided not to seek re-election as chairman, Roche said.
The company also said Bill Anderson, the former boss of Roche’s Genentech unit, would quit at the end of the year “to pursue opportunities outside of Roche,” with a successor due to be named by March 2023, Roche said in a statement.
“Over his 16-year career at Roche, Bill Anderson has demonstrated excellent leadership. He has been instrumental in shaping Roche’s transformation and I wish him all the best for the future,” Schwan said in a statement.
Anderson joined California-based Genentech in 2006 as senior vice president of the Immunology and Ophthalmology Business Unit, before leading the Bio Oncology Business Unit.
He will be replaced on a temporary basis by Schinecker when he hands over his diagnostics job to Matt Sause.
Roche added that Nestle CEO Mark Schneider and Akiko Iwasaki, an Immunobiology professor at Yale University, would stand for election as new board members at next year’s annual general meeting.