Illumina sets response timeline to Roche offer

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2012 11:14 AM
Illumina sets response timeline to Roche offer

(Reuters) - U.S. gene sequencing company Illumina Inc said on Friday it will tell shareholders within 10 business days of its position on a $5.7 billion takeover bid from Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG.

In the meantime, Illumina advised shareholders not to act on Roche's tender offer to acquire Illumina at $44.50 per share. Roche unveiled its bid earlier this week.

Illumina also postponed its fourth-quarter earnings announcement, previously scheduled for Tuesday, until the board completes its review of the Roche offer.

But it backed preliminary fourth-quarter results it disclosed at an investor conference earlier this month, and stood by its expectation that it will meet or exceed equity analyst estimates for its 2012 performance.

A deal would give Roche's diagnostics unit a leading position in the fast-growing area of gene sequencing, which is central to medicine's future as it allows researchers and physicians to better predict how patients are likely to respond to a drug.

But Roche may be facing a protracted battle for Illumina, which adopted a "poison pill" defense strategy shortly after Roche disclosed its bid.

Illumina shares have traded well above the offer price since Roche disclosed the bid, as investors expect Roche will have to pay more to prevail. Illumina shares were down about 1 percent at $52.18 on the Nasdaq on Friday morning.

Roche shares were down 1.9 percent at 157.2 Swiss francs in Europe.

Analysts and traders have suggested Roche may have to pay close to $60 a share to win Illumina, though Roche has said it has no plans of raising the offer.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Ransdell Pierson in New York, editing by Matthew Lewis)