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Roche Picks Insider as First New Legal Boss in a Decade

Dec. 9, 2019, 6:31 PM

Multinational health care and pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG will have a new leader of its in-house law department next year for the first time in more than a decade.

The Swiss company announced Dec. 9 that Claudia Böckstiegel, who since 2015 has served as head of legal for Roche’s diagnostics division in Basel, Switzerland, will replace Gottlieb Keller as general counsel. Keller, who has served in the top legal leadership role at Roche since 2008, is set to retire in March 2020.

In a statement, CEO Severin Schwan thanked Keller for his 35 years of service to Basel-based Roche, which is among the world’s largest publicly traded companies.

“Gottlieb Keller is an outstanding lawyer and at the same time a strong leader with a comprehensive understanding of our industry,” Schwan said. “I am delighted that Claudia Böckstiegel, a very competent and experienced successor from our own ranks, will take on the role of general counsel.”

Böckstiegel will also succeed Keller as a member of Roche’s corporate executive committee.

Roche, whose holding company is Roche Holding AG, expanded its U.S. operations in 2009 with its $46.8 billion acquisition of San Francisco-based cancer drug maker Genentech. Davis Polk & Wardwell advised Roche on that transaction, as well as on the company’s $8.3 billion purchase in 2014 of Bay Area-based biopharmaceutical company InterMune Inc. and $1.9 billion buy in 2018 of Alphabet Inc.-backed digital health analytics firm Flatiron Health Inc.

Davis Polk is also currently advising Roche on its $4.3 billion offer to acquire Philadelphia-based biotechnology company Spark Therapeutics Inc. That potential deal still awaits the approval of shareholders and regulators from the Federal Trade Commission and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority.

The bulk of its outside litigation needs in the U.S. over the past dozen years have been handled by lawyers from Covington & Burling; Shook, Hardy & Bacon; and Delaware’s Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell, according to Bloomberg data.

Earlier this year, Marcela Kirberger, a former general counsel for German optical microscope manufacturer Leica Microsystems GmbH, replaced the retiring Steve Oldham as general counsel of Indianapolis-based Roche Diagnostics Corp. Oldham had worked at the company, the North American arm of the Swiss biotechnology giant, since 1988.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at