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Roche Claims 'Other Options' If Illumina Deal Fails

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Roche Chairman Franz Humer today said that the firm has "other options" if its bid to acquire Illumina fails.

Humer's statement was part of prepared remarks made for Roche's annual general meeting, held today in Basel, Switzerland, where the firm is based.

Roche's hostile $5.7 billion bid for Illumina, launched in late January, has been met with resistance from Illumina's board and management, who have called the $44.50 per share offer "grossly inadequate." Roche has since proposed nominees for Illumina's board of directors. However, last week, Illumina urged its shareholders to reject the slate of nominees.

"We strongly believe that individuals selected and compensated by Roche would have conflicts of interest if elected to Illumina's board of directors," Illumina said in a statement to its shareholders. "It is in Roche's economic interest to acquire Illumina at the lowest possible value to Illumina's stockholders."

Illumina's shares closed Monday on the Nasdaq at $50.88, off its 52-week high of $79.40.

"The proposed acquisition of Illumina would strengthen our Diagnostics Division because gene sequencing will be a key technology going forward," Humer said in his remarks today. "Our global presence and experience in clinical diagnostics would accelerate the uptake of Illumina’s technologies – not just in research centers, but increasingly – and very importantly – in clinical settings such as cancer diagnostics."

He said the firms would benefit from a rapid merger. "However, this is an area where we have other options should the transaction fail over price."

Humer didn't provide further details on those other options, but added, "Illumina is not the only gene sequencing company, and there are other companies making quantum leaps in this field. Roche is also working on gene sequencing technologies of its own."

In his remarks, Humer also touted Roche's expanding pipeline of personalized medicines and companion diagnostics.

"Out of a total of 78 mew molecular entities, 12 are already in late-phase development," he said. "What is more, half of these medicines are tailored to specific patient populations — and thus paired with a companion diagnostic test. Our combined focus on pharmaceuticals and diagnostics is one of our great strengths as a company."