Roche digs in as pharma firm extends Illumina bid

ROCHE Holding yesterday extended its $5.7bn (£3.6bn) cash bid for US gene decoder Illumina for a second time as the Swiss drugmaker sticks to its M&A strategy of playing a long game.

Roche is offering $44.50 per share for Illumina, but analysts expect the company ultimately to raise its offer for the San Diego-based group.

Illumina, which has adopted a “poison pill” defence strategy for Roche’s unsolicited bid, said that Roche’s offer remained “grossly inadequate”.

“Illumina is positioned to create far more value than Roche has offered. Our shareholders clearly agree,” the company said in a statement.

Only about 0.1 per cent of Illumina’s shares outstanding have so far been tendered to Roche, the Basel-based company said. Roche urged Illumina shareholders last week to take up its offer, originally made in January, which it views as “full and fair”.

The next stage in Roche's hostile bid is Illumina’s annual general meeting on 18 April, for which Roche has named a slate of director candidates for election to Illumina’s board in a bid to gain control.

Greenhill and Citigroup are advising Roche on the deal and Davis Polk & Wardwell is acting as legal counsel. Illumina’s financial advisers are Goldman Sachs and BofA Merill Lynch.