Sanofi, Novartis favor diagnostics partnerships over M&A

The initial speculation--or was it a wish?--that a Sanofi ($SNY) or Novartis ($NVS) might mount a counterbid to Roche's hostile $5.7 billion offer for Illumina was chilled rather effectively by a story from Reuters, in which the CEO of the respective companies pour cold water all over the idea.

It's not that either company isn't sold on personalized medicines and the diagnostic tools needed to identify patient populations. They're just not wild about the idea of paying billions for the companies to get access to gene sequencing technology when there are other ways to accomplish the task.

"Everybody is thinking about diagnostics but you can get access to this technology without necessarily having to acquire the company," Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez (photo) told Reuters. Sanofi's Chris Viehbacher (photo) is on the same page. After all, he tells Reuters, it's not as if Roche would hold an Illumina sub back from working with other companies on other drugs.

Besides, in the gene sequencing field the big potential gain is countered by a big potential loss. "It's just not the risk profile we're looking for. It could pay off well or there's a big downside," Viehbacher said. "You need to be part of new technologies but I think partnership is the way to go."

Investors still believe the bidding is far from over. They've been betting Roche will pony up a bigger amount as the pharma giant got its takeover bid rolling today.

- see the story from Reuters
- get more from Bloomberg