Switzerland’s Roche relocating to South City 

Shortly after the world’s largest drug company announced it was moving a major research office out of South San Francisco, another pharmaceutical behemoth said it intends to takes its place.

Swiss drug maker Roche said it intends to move any number of its 1,000 employees from Palo Alto and 3,200 employees from its commercial headquarters in New Jersey to South San Francisco. Roche confirmed this week it is closing its Palo Alto office and will move its virology department to South City but would not confirm how many jobs are moving north.

Roche also said Tuesday it still intends to move its commercial headquarters from New Jersey to South City, although that move is contingent upon a  the company’s initial takeover offer of $43.7 billion for Genentech, another South City biotech giant.

Last month, Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical firm, announced it would be moving the worldwide headquarters of its Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center out of South City and into San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood.

The changes will greatly affect where and how some of the world’s most popular drugs are made and the financial futures of thousands of local workers.

In all, at least 100 Pfizer employees are leaving South San Francisco, an unknown portion of 1,000 Roche employees in Palo Alto would come to South City, Roche plans to move its 3,200-employee New Jersey office and U.S. commercial headquarters to the Industrial City.

Genentech, in response to employee concerns over the Roche proposal, announced a new $371 million plan to retain its employees earlier this month, spokeswoman Caroline Pecquet said. When asked about Roche’s intention to move Palo Alto and New Jersey jobs to South City, Pecquet said she could not comment.

The uncertainty is having an impact on not only the employees of these companies but also the city. Biotech companies’ taxes provide a significant portion of the city’s revenue, South City Economic Development Coordinator Mike Lappen said.

“[The industry] brings a lot of money into the local economy, and it’s not only South San Francisco,” Lappen said. “Genentech pays one of the highest property-tax rates to San Mateo County.”

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

 

Jobs on the way

South San Francisco’s pharmaceutical industry:

10,700 Employees at Genentech in South City
1,000 Employees at shuttered Roche office in Palo Alto, some of which are moving to South San Francisco
3,200 Employees at Roche headquarters in New Jersey, an office the company plans to move to South San Francisco
100 Minimum number of South San Francisco Pfizer employees moving to new campus in San Francisco
$8.54 billion U.S. sales by Genentech in 2007
$27.1 billion Worldwide sales by Roche in 2005
$48.4 billion Worldwide sales by Pfizer in 2007

Sources: Genentech, Roche, Pfizer

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Mike Rosenberg

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