Roche makes a US-$5.7bn hostile bid for Illumina
Basel – The rumours started just before Christmas. Roche wants Illumina. Just how dearly, has just become clear. The Swiss drugmaker made a $5.7b hostile bid for Illumina, the current market leader in Next-Generation sequencing. Roche is offering $44.5 per share in cash, a 64% premium over Illumina’s stock value on December 21, 2011. Illumina is the leading vendor of the 2nd generation DNA sequencing machines. The combination of Roche's/454's long-read pyrosequencing technology with Illumina's high throughput capabilities would secure Roche a monopoly in the key technology of sequencing-based diagnostics. Roche says it was forced to go hostile after Illumina's board failed to warm to its repeated overtures.
The takeover would not only make Roche the biggest seller of sequencing machines but also speed the development of sequencing-based routine clinical and companion diagnostic tests.
Illumina's response to the offer was not one of unbridled joy. It “will thoroughly review Roche’s proposal and make a recommendation to stockholders in due course”, the company said.
Roche said it expected the worldwide DNA sequencing market to grow from to more than $2 billion by 2015 from about $1.2 billion now. But at the same time the yields in the business are continuously squeezed.
Earlier this month Ion Torrent, a division of Illumina's competitor Life Technologies, announced it would present a tabletop machine that is able to sequence a person's whole genome for just $1,000 at the end of the year. Illumina quickly retorted that it has reached the 1,000 dollar level as well.