Genentech cutting 450 jobs in South SF

(AP)
November 18, 2010 7:30:07 PM PST
One of the Bay Area's biggest and best known biotech firms is laying off hundreds of workers in South San Francisco. Genentech announced the layoffs in an e-mail to employees.

The 8,800 workers at Genentech's South San Francisco campus have been told not to talk with reporters about the layoffs, but an independent contractor told ABC7 the mood is pretty dark.

"It's not a good feeling to see our co-workers let go," he said.

A spokesperson says cutting 450 manufacturing jobs has been anticipated for years as the company moved its commercial manufacturing to other facilities, but the Wednesday announcement came as Genentech's parent company, the Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Roche, announced 4,800 jobs cut worldwide.

Roche owned a minority stake in Genentech until last year when it acquired the rest of the company.

"Well it's an unfortunate hit to the city in the short term," South San Francisco Mayor Mark Addiego said.

Addiego says the city has been expecting the layoffs ever since the Roche acquisition.

"They are finishing up another building another investment in South San Francisco and they're expending in some areas while they contract in others," he said.

As Genentech announced its layoffs another bio tech firm held a ribbon cutting in San Francisco's Mission Bay. The president of BayBio, a biotech trade association, says Genentech's layoffs represent an opportunity for smaller firms to acquire talented workers.

"We're sprinkling the pixie dust of all of the experience of Genentech employees across the entrepreneurial field here," Gail Maderis said.

The director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences says there has been a lot of consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry and that naturally breeds layoffs.

"I think we saw the same thing when Wyeth merged with Pfizer; that caused 40,000 layoffs," Regis Kelly said.

The former executive vice chancellor at UCSF says Pfizer was forced to move out of its Mission Bay facility.

"Now the dust has settled after that merger is over and now Pfizer is coming back to Mission Bay and they're putting $85 million into a partnership with UCSF, so I think there's no trend in a direction that's negative, this in my opinion is just churn within the industry," he said.

In addition to the South San Francisco layoffs, another 100 manufacturing jobs will be cut from Genentech's plant in Vacaville. The layoffs will begin as early as January and could stretch over the next couple of years.


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