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Roche To Genentech: Deal Or No Deal?

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Yeah, "Deal Or No Deal" has become a bit of a tired cliche, but I think it's totally appropriate in the context of the latest salvo in the Roche-Genentech takeover battle.

The Swiss drug company is now offering 93 bucks a share for the 44 percent of DNA it doesn't already own. That's up from $86.50, which was down from the original bid of $89. Interestingly, Roche made the move on a Friday evening in Switzerland, in the middle of the trading day here in the States.

Roche, in the role of Howie Mandel who is a proxy for "the banker", is essentially trying to get Genentech shareholders to throw in the towel and take the $93 and go home. But there's still one briefcase left to be opened. It contains the results of the big study of Genentech's Avastin on earlier stage colon cancer. Analysts say if the drug works that it could add several billion dollars a year in revenue and send DNA shares to around $100 and maybe even out of Roche's reach.

Clearly, Roche is trying to get this deal done before the results come out and it's counting on nervous shareholders, who might also need the cash right now in today's stock market, to take the bait. I think a key statement in the Roche release is Chairman Franz Humer's quote, "Based on conversations with Genentech shareholders, we believe there is a strong sentiment to bring this process to a conclusion."

But Genentech has already put out its own press release urging shareholders to leave it alone. The company says the three members of its board who make up the special committee assigned to deal with Roche will review the latest offer "promptly" and then explain its position "in detail" in a regulatory filing.

Game on.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com