Roche open to big acquisitions 'if it makes scientific and financial sense' - CEO tells newspaper

Logo of Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen in Basel

ZURICH (Reuters) - Roche is open to making big acquisitions if they make "sense", Chief Executive Thomas Schinecker said, with the Swiss drugmaker unencumbered by its $20.7 billion deal last year to buy back its shares from Novartis.

"Of course, we also look externally for opportunities," Schinecker, who became Roche CEO in March, told Swiss newspaper NZZ Am Sonntag in an article to be published on Sunday.

"If it makes scientific and financial sense, we can also imagine a large acquisition," he added.

Earlier this year it was reported that U.S. biotech company Roivant Sciences was in talks to sell to Roche an experimental drug to treat inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, in a deal that could be valued at more than $7 billion.

Both companies declined to comment on the matter at the time.

Schinecker declined to comment to the newspaper on the size of any potential deals by Roche. The company is due to hold an investor day on Monday where it will outline its strategy and give updates on its product pipeline.

"With every possible acquisition, we ask ourselves whether the potential expenditure can be earned back," he said.

"We still have the strategic flexibility for acquisitions," he added, when asked if Roche had enough funding to support a buying spree after buying the shares back from Novartis.

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Mike Harrison)