Roche chairman says Illumina bid off the table: paper

ZURICH Sun Jan 6, 2013 10:16am GMT

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche (ROG.VX) is no longer considering a bid for U.S. gene-sequencing company Illumina (ILMN.O), Chairman Franz Humer was quoted as saying in a newspaper interview on Sunday.

"Illumina is definitely off the table. They were not willing to abandon the totally unrealistic price they were asking for. Roche does not do acquisitions that don't create value," he told Swiss paper SonntagsZeitung.

Roche walked away from a $6.8 billion bid for Illumina in April after shareholders blocked its move to gain seats on the U.S. firm's board, but a Swiss newspaper reported in December that Roche could submit a fresh bid.

"Illumina was a 'nice to have' and not a 'must have' for us. There are several alternatives to get hold of gene-sequencing technology. I'm not worried about that," he said, without giving more details.

Humer also said in the interview that Chief Executive Severin Schwan, who will stand for election to the board of directors this spring, would not succeed him as chairman.

"Severin Schwan is not going to be my successor," he said. "I do not know who is going to succeed me and when. I still feel young and fit and enjoy my work, but I'm not going to stay until I'm 73 like my predecessor," 66-year-old Humer said.

He also ruled out the possibility that Roche could return to a system whereby the same person serves as CEO and chairman, as Humer himself did for several years in the past.

Asked about the development of the company's dividends, Humer said: "Investors can expect rising dividends, although we are not aiming for a specific return ratio. At over 50 percent, it is already higher than the average."

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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