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Illumina Confirms Unsolicited Bid for Complete Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Illumina confirmed that it made a competing unsolicited bid for Complete Genomics at about 5 percent above BGI-Shenzhen's offer for the Mountain View, Calif.-based next-generation sequencing services firm.

In a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission late Friday, Illumina confirmed it was the company identified as "Party H" by Complete Genomics that made an offer of $3.30 per share to acquire it.

Complete Genomics disclosed the bid earlier last week in an SEC document, adding that it declined the offer after determining that it would likely be turned down by regulators. In another SEC document filed on Friday, Complete Genomics further said that its board determined BGI's offer to be pro-competitive compared to Party H's because among other things BGI's offer "will preserve the company's innovative technology in the market place."

It also said that it and Party H are "each other's closest competitors for customers in the US for whole-genome sequencing as an outsourced service," hinting at Illumina as the unnamed solicitor.

Illumina said that its most recent proposal was made Nov. 5, but it didn't indicate that it would continue pursuing a purchase. A company spokeswoman declined further comment.

Ross Muken of the International Strategy & Investment Group said in a research note published Friday that Illumina's disclosure could be a maneuver to get shareholders to pressure Complete Genomics by making them aware of the 5 percent premium being offered above BGI's bid "in the event they disagree with the board's view that it is inferior to BGI's original offer or choose to communicate an acceptable premium that they would deem superior."

He added that Illumina may be more concerned about BGI's "strategic intent … [rather] than the asset itself." BGI is probably Illumina's largest customer for HiSeq consumables as it has more than 125 HiSeq instruments, and an acquisition of Complete Genomics could provide BGI leverage to negotiate with Illumina over the prices of those consumables, he said.

"Thus it would make sense for Illumina to purchase [Complete Genomics] for [approximately] $100 million in order to protect that annuity stream," Muken said.

Dan Leonard of Leerink Swann said that the $3.30 per-share bid is the fourth time that Illumina has increased its offer. Even if it is unsuccessful in snatching Complete Genomics away from BGI, its bid could eventually force Complete Genomics out of business by delaying the completion of the BGI-Complete Genomics marriage until Complete Genomics runs out of cash.

Last week, Complete Genomics warned that if the BGI purchase falls through, it may not have the resources to remain in business past Jan. 31, 2013.

BGI's bid for Complete Genomics is currently awaiting regulatory approval after the US Federal Trade Commission made a second request for information about the $117.6 million deal.