Roche has broken the deadlock and has upped a bid to acquire the 44.2% stake it does not own in Genentech to $93 per share, although the US biotechnology giant’s board are still advising stockholders to do nothing just yet.

The Swiss major’s offer is now worth around $45.7 million, up from a previous bid of about $42 billion, or $86.50 per share. Roche still thinks the latter is a reasonable offer but chairman Franz Humer said that “based on conversations with Genentech shareholders, we believe that there is a strong sentiment to bring this process to a conclusion”. All other terms and conditions remain unchanged.

As a result, Roche has put in the $93 per share offer “to maximise shareholder participation” and it will “proceed quickly to complete all necessary financing”, Dr Humer said. “We now look forward to successfully completing the transaction,” he added, though he may still face quite a wait.

The $86.50 offer saw just 500,000 shares being tendered out of the 440 million-plus shares outstanding that Roche does not own. The offer was due to expire next Friday (March 13) but has now been extended for another week.

Genentech urged shareholders “to take no action at this time” with respect to Roche's revised bid. Once again, the South San Francisco, California-based biotech has again asked its three-person special committee, which has rejected Roche’s two previous advances, to review the bid. A decision will be made “promptly”, the company added.

Roche wants the deal done soon, ahead of data from a key trial of the blockbuster Avastin (bevacizumab) in an adjuvant setting for colorectal cancer which are not expected to be announced before mid-April. If the data are positive, analysts believe that Genentech’s share price could shoot past the $100 mark; it closed at $90.86 (+11.3%), after Roche’s latest offer was revealed.

Of course, if the data from the Avastin trial is negative, the stock could go down well below the $93 level, leading many analysts to believe that the take-up for Roche’s offer could be considerable. Mark Schoenebaum at Deutsche Bank issued a research note saying that “we believe this is a very fair offer and expect most investors will now tender,” while Jason Kantor at RBC Capital Markets said that “given the challenging equity environment” and the risk/reward hanging on the Avastin study, “we believe $93 is an attractive return in this market”.

However, Jason Zhang at BMO Capital Markets, wrote a note saying that “by leveraging the current market condition and taking advantage of investors’ risk-aversion attitude, Roche is yet to offer a fair price that represents Genentech’s long-term value”. He added that “we see this move as a clear indication that Roche is committed to the deal” and although “we do not expect Roche to meet Genentech’s $112 price, and a price near $100-$105 would probably close the deal.”