As rumours surface that Roche is in talks with Genentech to up its bid yet again, the Swiss major’s chairman has stated that the $93 per share offer it has made is a fair one.

Last Friday, Roche increased its offer to buy the 44.2% stake in the US biotechnology giant it does not already own to $93 from $86.50 per share, thus valuing the deal at around $45.7 million. However a number of news agencies have claimed, without naming names, that a $95 per share offer could be forthcoming.

However, speaking at the company’s annual general meeting in Basel this morning, Roche chairman Franz Humer said that the $93 per share offer is a reasonable one. He noted that “numerous conversations with Genentech shareholders have shown us that there is a strong sentiment to bring this process to a swift and fair conclusion”, hence the higher offer.

Dr Humer added that the bid “provides an opportunity for all Genentech shareholders to receive a fair cash price for their shares in the near term in the current difficult market environment”. He also reiterated his view that the price proposed by Genentech’s special committee, $112.00 per share, “is not based on realistic assumptions about the future”.

Specifically, Dr Humer said the committee’s assessments of the potential impact of competition from follow-on biologics on Genentech’s products after patent expiry, “expected productivity gains and higher success rates in R&D, the investments required and the market potential of the cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) in additional indications, and possibilities for price increases in the US market are either inadequate or overly optimistic”.

Despite these differences, Dr Humer stressed that “although this is, in formal terms, a ‘hostile takeover’, the relationship between the Roche and Genentech management teams remains very good”. He added that “I am therefore very optimistic that this step will not jeopardise the successful working relationship or the mutual trust between Roche and Genentech”.

Back to more concrete deals, Roche has signed a deal with Germany’s Evotec to develop EVT 101 in patients with treatment-resistant depression. The compound, which was originally discovered by the Swiss major, is currently in Phase II trials.

The agreement covers possible development of the entire EVT 100 family of compounds, and could be worth over $300 million to Evotec.