Roche Ups the Ante With Latest Illumina Bid

Roche Holding AG has ratcheted up its offer price for hostile takeover target Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) and piled on pressure on Illumina’s board with stronger language, effectively telling it to come to the negotiating table or stand aside.

Roche raised its offer by 15 percent to nearly $6.7 billion, or about $51 a share. Roche Chairman Franz Humer and Chief Executive Severin Schwan decided on the increased offer in less than one-third of the time they took to hike bids in the two previous hostile takeovers.

“If you continue to decline to negotiate with us, we will have no choice but to continue our effort to effect a transaction unilaterally,” Humer said in a letter to Illumina. “However, I strongly hope that you will either agree to commence discussions with us now or remove all obstacles so that your shareholders can make their own determinations about the adequacy of our increased offer.”

“The urgency is now in the public domain,” said Andrew Weiss, an analyst at Bank Vontobel AG in Zurich.

Dan Leonard, an analyst with Leerink Swann & Co., thinks Illumina should wait for a better offer. “I think other bidders are unlikely. As long as their stock is trading higher than Roche’s offer, they don’t have to do anything,” he said. Instead, they can afford not to come to the table and wait for a higher offer from Roche.

Illumina shares were up more than 4 percent this morning, just shy of $82 per share.

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