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Third advisory firm backs Illumina against Roche

Family-controlled Roche is facing increasing opposition in its bid to take over DNA-sequencing company Illumina, with a third investor advisory group recommending that shareholders reject the Swiss pharmaceutical giant’s proposals.

Family-controlled Roche is facing increasing opposition in its bid to take over DNA-sequencing company Illumina, with a third investor advisory group recommending that shareholders reject the Swiss pharmaceutical giant’s proposals.

Glass Lewis, a US investor consulting firm, said on 10 April that Illumina’s shareholders should reject Roche's offer of $51.00 (€38.91) per share at the company’s annual meeting on 18 April.

Roche, which is controlled by the Hoffmann and Oeri families, first offered $44.50 per share in January.

However, after Illumina’s board rejected the bid, the family business raised the offer on 29 March and said in April that it would consider increasing it further if Illumina accepted entering negotiations.

But Illumina, which makes machines capable of scanning human DNA and is considered a leader in this diagnostic sector, rejected this offer too.

Roche also nominated six candidates for election to Illumina’s board. If appointed, Roche would have a majority in the nine-strong governing body, but Glass Lewis recommended that investors vote against their election.

Glass Lewis's recommendations came just days after US-based Institutional Shareholder Services and Egan-Jones also called on the company’s shareholders to vote against Roche’s offer.

“We are very pleased that all three of the leading proxy advisors ... have now recommended that their clients support the re-election of Illumina’s slate of directors and vote against all of Roche’s proposals at Illumina’s upcoming annual meeting,” Jay Flatley, Illumina’s president and chief executive, said in a statement on 10 April.

“We are confident that Illumina’s stockholders will reject Roche’s hostile and opportunistic efforts to acquire Illumina at a grossly inadequate price,” he added.

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