Henri Meier's new gig as president of the board of directors at HBM BioVentures may be the Swiss epitome of the marriage of biotech and finance. The former CFO of F. Hoffmann-La Roche (SWX:ROCZ), Meier last week launched the formal fundraising, with an initial target of up to CHF750 million ($430 million) in the next few months. The goal is to have CHF1 billion by the time the fund goes public in Switzerland and Germany a few years down the road.

Meier, who stepped down at ROCZ at the end of 2000 after 15 years, clearly knows how to make money. He is credited with generating 30% to 50% of ROCZ's income over the years purely from financial transactions, for example making CHF3.2 billion by taking Genentech Inc. (DNA) private and then public again in July and October of 1999 (see BioCentury, July 21 & Oct. 11, 1999). Consequently, some investors have viewed ROCZ as a highly successful Swiss banking operation run by Henri Meier with an associated pharmaceutical business.