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Mar 9, 2009

Roche Sweetens Its Bid for Genentech Offering $45.7B

  • Roche has once again changed its mind on how much Genentech is worth; this time its proposal is on the upswing. Currently, the deal is at $93 per share, or roughly $45.7 billion. Genentech for now is only saying that it is reviewing the opportunity.

    This decision comes just about a month after the company dropped its original $89 per-share offer by $2.5. In July 2008, when Roche made its first move, analysts believed that the company would likely have to up its price to the low $100s. Genentech rode the wave of excitement surrounding the potential takeover, and it traded above $90. Then the market crashed, Genentech’s stock slipped, and Roche took advantage of the situation and lowered its price to $86.5.

    Of course, with the Friday afternoon news that Roche was willing to pay $93 per share, Genentech’s stock rose to close the day at about $90.86.

    “Roche’s $86.5 bid was a complete failure,” says Jason Napodano, equity research analyst at Zacks Investment Research. The company had to increase its price because its offer only garnered 500,000 shares, which is less than 1%.

    “Price movement is a normal part of negotiations, and the current economic environment allows Roche to be more aggressive,” notes Viren Mehta, Pharm. D, managing member of Mehta Partners. “Broadly this is unfolding in line with expectations, and over two-thirds of investors seem ready to tender at this price.  In effect, the deal is nearing a conclusion.  The special committee now can be expected to search for a graceful final step.”

    While $93 per share is a good bid, Napodano expects the price to get closer to $100 per share. “Since Roche already owns about 55% of Genentech, it needs another half to three-fourths of the outstanding shares to close the deal.”

    A major driver of Genentech’s value is Phase III data expected between April and June regarding Avastin as an adjuvant treatment for colon cancer patients. Data regarding use of Avastin in brain cancer is also expected in May.

    If positive, reports suggest that Genentech could earn another $5 billion in revenues from this drug. This would also mean a good bump to its stock price and that Roche would have to sweeten its bid a fair deal to secure a takeover.

    “Most Genentech shareholders will continue to hold their shares,” says Napodano, until Avastin data comes out, unless the offer goes up adequately.

    The question now is how confident is Genentech of gaining approval of Avastin in this setting in a timely manner. If it does believe in its product, then playing hard-to-get could mean an even better price for Genentech. If anything does go wrong, however, be it data that is not as significant as is expected or a delay in the trial and/or approval, then Roche could come out the winner.



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