Roche's Chairman Franz Humer is to join drinks group Diageo on July 1 next year. The appointment follows news that the Swiss group will split the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive - because of what it terms the increasing complexity of the tasks involved - naming Severin Schwan, current CEO of Roche Diagnostics, as group head. Humer retains an input as Chairman of Roche Holdings.

Humer has been a non-executive director of Diageo for the last two years, but will step up as Chairman from July 1 next year when the incumbent Lord Blyth of Rowington leaves. He will also remain as Chairman of Roche.

The announcement came just after the Swiss giant confirmed its outlook for the year, reporting a group sales up 15% to 23 billion Swiss francs ($4.9 billion), helping to push a 29% leap in net income to CHF 5.9 billion.

In a statement, Diageo said: "Franz has a first class track record with considerable experience of international business in both mature and developing markets. He has been a non-executive director of Diageo for two years and during this time he has demonstrated to the whole board the qualities that will allow him to be a very successful Chairman of Diageo."

Tamiflu for children nears market

Meanwhile, Roche revealed this morning that it has won the backing of Europe's scientific advisory panel, the Committee for Human Medicinal Products, for a smaller dose of its blockbuster influenza drug Tamiflu (oselamivir). Until now, Tamiflu was only available in 75mg capsules and an oral suspension form, but the CHMP has now endorsed smaller 30mg and 45mg doses for use in children over the age of one.

In addition, says the firm, the capsules have a three-years longer shelf life than the current suspension presentation available for children, which "offers and improved option for government pandemic stockpiling." Roche also recently won approval in the USA for lower-dose Tamiflu capsules.