Roche sales remain flat as Illumina bid battle rages

City A.M. Reporter
SWISS drugmaker Roche dangled the prospect of a higher offer before reluctant US bid target Illumina yesterday along with broadly flat first-quarter sales supported by its top-selling cancer drugs.

Genetics specialist Illumina has rejected Roche’s $6.7bn sweetened takeover offer and has also urged investors to vote against Roche’s bid to get its own nominees on to the US firm’s board at a meeting next week to push for talks.

Chief executive Severin Schwan said that Roche would have to consider “all its options” if Illumina shareholders voted against its proposals at that meeting.

“If Illumina were to engage with us, we would consider any information supporting Illumina’s contention that our offer undervalues the company and its prospects,” Schwan said in a statement.

His comments echo those made in a letter to Illumina shareholders late on Wednesday in which Schwan also ridiculed Illumina’s claim to be “the Apple of the genomics business”.

Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, said first-quarter sales fell one per cent to SwFr11.03bn, but rose two per cent at constant exchange rates, meeting the average analyst forecast.