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Illumina Issues Second Shareholder Letter to Reject Roche

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – On the heels of Roche's extension of its hostile takeover bid and in anticipation of its annual shareholders' meeting next month, Illumina today sent a second letter to its shareholders to vote reject Roche's efforts to acquire the San Diego-based firm.

The letter reiterates points made by Illumina since the $5.7 billion offer from Roche was rejected and outlined in a letter Illumina sent to its shareholders last week when it scheduled its meeting for April 18, as well as in an earlier letter to shareholders.

Today's letter, signed by President and CEO Jay Flatley and Chairman William Rastetter, pointed out Illumina's market-leader position, especially in next-generation sequencing, saying it has a 60 percent share of the marketplace. In addition it estimated that 90 percent of all sequencing output globally is done on an Illumina platform.

The company has consistently beaten analyst estimates for revenues and earnings per share, it said, and during the past decade revenues have grown 83 percent on a compounded annual basis, and during the past five years non-GAAP EPS has increased 26 percent.

During a 10-year period ending January 2012, Illumina has generated a 1,129 percent return for its shareholders, compared to a 16 percent gain in the S&P 500 during the same period, the firm added, and during Flatley's leadership, sales reached more than $1 billion in 2011 from $1.3 million in 2000.

The company also repeated its opinion that Roche's $44.50 per-share offer to be "blatantly opportunistic." Its board rejected the offer in February after determining that it "dramatically undervalues Illumina and … was timed to take advantage of what we believe was a temporary price dip caused by external events," the firm said.

During Illumina's shareholder meeting, four Illumina's board members will be up for reelection. Roche seeks to displace them with its own nominees.

Additionally, the Swiss pharmaceutical and diagnostics firm wants to expand Illumina's board by two members for a total of 11 members and fill those two spots with its nominees. If successful, Roche would have six board members, giving them a majority and the muscle to push ahead with its $5.7 billion bid.

"Don’t be misled by Roche’s aggressive campaign to buy your shares at a grossly inadequate price," Illumina said in its letter today. "Your board is highly independent and far better positioned to protect your interests than are Roche’s hand-picked nominees, who Illumina believes are interested only in supporting Roche’s hostile offer to acquire Illumina at the lowest possible price.'

The letter comes after Roche announced today that it has extended its bid for Illumina until April 20, 6 p.m. EDT.

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