ZURICH Shares in Illumina (ILMN.O) jumped 7 percent on Thursday, after Swiss newspaper L'Agefi reported that Roche may have reached an agreement to buy the U.S. gene-sequencing company.
Citing "information that appears trustworthy but could not be verified", the paper said the two parties may have last week agreed on a transaction price of $66 per share which would value the company between $8.1 billion and $8.2 billion.
The paper added that nothing was finalized yet, but that an announcement could come in the first half of January.
Roche spokesman Alexander Klauser said the company did not comment on market rumors.
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. Severin Schwan had earlier ridiculed Illumina's claim to be "the Apple of the genomics business".
Analysts were skeptical about the report.
"The price tag looks quite high as it would represents a premium of 48 percent versus the initial offer a year ago," said Helvea analyst Odile Rundquist. "For a company having revenues of roughly $1 billion, that values the deal at eight times sales."
By 10 a.m. ET shares in Illumina were trading up 7 percent at $55.90. Shares in Roche ROG.VX were down 1.3 percent at 184.6 Swiss francs.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by Ben Hirschler)