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Roche can shop around if Illumina bid fails, Humer says

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Play hard to get all you want, Illumina. Roche Chairman Franz Humer says there are plenty of other fish in the gene-sequencing sea. "Illumina is not the only gene-sequencing company, and there are other companies making quantum leaps in this field," Humer said in a speech at the company's annual meeting (as quoted by Bloomberg).

Roche ($RHHBY) wants Illumina's ($ILMN) genome-decoding technology to help advance its efforts in personalized medicine. The company is betting on targeted drugs and associated diagnostics for gains as patents expire on mass-market blockbusters. "Roche and Illumina could profit from a speedy merger, however there are also alternatives for us in this field if the takeover fails on price," Humer said at the meeting (as quoted by Reuters). "We are still convinced that we have made Illumina shareholders an attractive and fair offer."

Humer's comments come after Roche extended its hostile bid for the California-based gene-sequencing company--at the same $44.50-a-share price. Illumina's board has called the bid "grossly inadequate" and adopted a "poison pill" to defend against Roche's offer. But the Swiss drugmaker has stubbornly faced similar opposition before, and prevailed.

So far, however, Illumina is holding firm. "An extremely low number of shares have been tendered, consistent with our view--and that of our stockholders--that Roche's offer doesn't reflect Illumina's unique leadership position, business performance and future prospects," the company said in response to Roche's extension.

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