Who will wear the pants?

OXFORD - The proposed creation of a Glaxo Wellcome-SmithKline Beecham behemoth has many companies in the biotech sector crossing their fingers that it is SmithKline's corporate culture that wins out. While the pharma companies' current and potential biotech partners are likely to find themselves on the back burner for the next 12 to 18 months as the planned merger sorts itself out, SmithKline is widely seen as easier to deal with than Glaxo.

The issue that crops up most about a merger's impact on future biopartnering activities is the huge gulf in company cultures. Although both companies have a strong British flavor, biotech executives have commented on how different their styles are. As is usual with this sort of situation, no one is willing to speak for attribution.