Roche to tap Lufthansa CEO as new board chairman

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GENEVA (AP) - Swiss drugmaker Roche said Friday it is tapping Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz to serve as its next board chairman.

The company, based in Basel, Switzerland, said that Franz would be nominated to succeed the current board chairman, Franz Humer, in a vote at the annual shareholders' meeting in early March.

Franz, who was elected as a Roche board member in 2011, said he looked forward to leading the board and would not renew his contract as board chairman and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which is due to end on May 31.

"As a board member I have had ample opportunity to get to know and admire its strong business performance and corporate culture," he said in a statement. "Strategically, Roche is in very good shape, and I am looking forward to taking on this opportunity."

Humer said in the statement that Franz will bring "outstanding personal qualities and an impressive record as head of a major global company."

In a separate statement posted by Lufthansa, Franz said he was leaving for "professional reasons."

"After a total of nearly 15 years in the Lufthansa Group, this was not an easy decision for me to make," he said. "This is a suitable time for a management handover."

Wolfgang Mayrhuber, chair of Lufthansa's supervisory board, said he regretted that Franz was leaving but has "trust that in the remaining months he will be able to bring his work for our company to a successful conclusion."

At Lufthansa, headquartered in Cologne, Germany, Franz has headed a global aviation group with some 117,000 personnel.

Roche Holding AG, the world's biggest manufacturer of cancer drugs, employs 82,000 people worldwide and says it had more than 8 billion Swiss francs ($8.7 billion) invested in research and development last year.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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