Genentech's newly-rich scientists could pose a challenge

Roche has several big challenges waiting for it at Genentech. One example: Its $47 billion takeover of the biotech giant will make many of the California biotech's scientists rich. Very, very rich.

Susan Desmond-Hellmann (photo), who gets much of the credit for Genentech's string of development successes, has more than a million shares and options. Now Desmond-Hellman and others could become so rich from Roche's $95 a share offer, some analysts fret they're likely to up and quit. And those are exactly the people that Roche most needs to stay at work, creating new therapies.

That's just one of the unanticipated side effects posed by the mega-mergers now reshaping the landscape of the biopharma industry. The Wall Street Journal marvels, though, that Roche, Pfizer and Merck are able to raise the enormous sums needed to play this game in the middle of a credit crisis.

They have the money, but the Journal wants to know if the buttoned-down suits at Roche have the right spirit to keep Genentech's creative culture alive. In one hilarious anecdote, the writer tells the story of a suited Roche exec who ran into the late Bob Swanson, Genentech's co-founder, attired in a grass skirt and coconut bra. He was dressed for the Friday beer fest, which is a company tradition. Roche execs, though, insist they want nothing to change.

"The important element is we need to do everything in our power to make sure this innovative culture in Genentech gets maintained," Franz Humer, Roche's chairman, tells the Journal

- read the article in the Wall Street Journal