Roche looks set to walk away from its proposed hostile takeover of Illumina after deciding not to extend its $51.00 per share offer and suffering a knockback from the US gene specialist's shareholders.

An eagerly-anticipated annual general meeting saw stockholders elect all four of Illumina's nominees to the board, including chief executive Jay Flatley and chairman William Rastetter, whilst rejecting Roche's two candidates. As the preliminary results of the vote came out, the Swiss major said it will not extend its offer, which expires on Friday and valued Illumina at around $6.60 billion.

Roche chief executive Severin Schwan said "we continue to hold Illumina and its management in very high regard but, with access only to public information about [its] business and prospects", he feels a higher bid would not be in the interest of his shareholders. He argued that "we have throughout this process desired to engage in a constructive dialogue with Illumina’s management, listen to its views of value and prospects, and offer a fair and adequate price".

However, in the absence of such discussions, "our duty to be disciplined with the assets of Roche’s shareholders has led to this decision", Dr Schwan added, claiming the firm will "continue to consider options and opportunities to develop further its portfolio of businesses in order to expand its diagnostics leadership position".

Over at Illumina, Mr Flatley was happy, saying "we are pleased that Roche has decided not to extend its inadequate offer…and that we can now return our full focus to growing our business, making the most of the expanding opportunities in our space". He added that the board thanks stockholders "for their support and appreciate their confidence in our ability to execute our strategic plan and create compelling value".

However, some observers believe this may not be the end of the saga and that Roche may still come up with a deal. Following the news, Illumina shares  ended the day up 1.2% at $44.51, just a cent higher than  Roche's initial offer made back in January.