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Roche Says Disappointed With ISS Recommendation

Swiss drugmaker Roche (RHHBY.PK) said Friday that it is disappointed with Institutional Shareholder Services' recommendation that shareholders of U.S.-based Illumina, Inc. (ILMN) vote against the election of Roche's independent director nominees to Illumina's Board of Directors at Illumina's 2012 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on April 18.

"While we are disappointed that ISS has recommended that Illumina shareholders vote against our director nominees at the Illumina annual meeting, we are pleased that ISS noted that 'Roche would seem to be an excellent partner for Illumina as the sequencing industry grows more intertwined with new drug development.' ISS also noted that the key to Illumina's valuation falls in its commercialization strategy - a strategy that has not been tested but is an area in which we believe Roche could provide significant expertise," Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche Group, said in a statement.

"We respectfully challenge ISS' assertion that our current 'bid does not provide a compelling starting point for negotiations.' Our goal has always been to enter into a negotiated transaction with Illumina and we firmly believe that our present offer is more than adequate to serve as a basis for negotiation with Illumina," Schwan added.

Schwan further said, "We remain willing to consider additional value if given the opportunity to enter discussions and perform due diligence."

In late January, Roche commenced a tender offer to acquire all shares of Illumina for $44.50 per share in cash. The offer was raised to $51.00 per share in cash on March 29. But the Illumina board has cited the company's growth prospects in the next generation sequencing market and rebuffed the sweetened offer as grossly inadequate.

by RTT Staff Writer

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