Roche is considering a purchase of diagnostics company Igen International after a US appeals court ruling put a slice of the Swiss group's diagnostics operations in jeopardy.
Earlier this month, the court reversed an earlier decision to make Switzerland's Roche pay $486 million (€425m) in damages to Igen in a dispute over electrochemiluminescence (ECL) technology used in clinical diagnostics and pharmaceutical drug discovery. However, in the process, Roche lost its licence to use Igen's Origen ECL technology, a key component of the Swiss firm's Elecsys range of diagnostics.
After the ruling, Igen immediately withdrew its licence from Roche and initiated patent proceedings against its former partner in the USA and Germany.
According to analyst Denise Gugerli-Etter at Sarasin, Roche has indicated that between 7 and 8 per cent of diagnostics sales would be affected by the licence withdrawal, equivalent to CHF 500-580 million in 2002. She estimates that Roche has a margin of around 16 per cent in the diagnostics business, so the loss in operating income would be in the CHF 80-95 million range.
In a terse statement, Igen confirmed that negotiations with Roche Diagnostics over a possible 'transaction' were ongoing, but said it "does not intend to make any further public announcements regarding these discussions until an agreement is reached or discussions are terminated."