Takeda move for Shire looks increasingly likely

pharmafile | April 6, 2018 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing Japan, Shire, Takeda, UK, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

Takeda’s surprise announcement, just last week, that it was weighing up a move for Shire had some analysts sceptical about whether the Japanese company could pull off such a larger acquisition.

The two companies are of a similar size and Shire is still in the process of integrating Baxalta, after its separate $32 billion merger. On top of this, the haemophilia portfolio just doesn’t look as strong in an increasingly competitive market – a significant issue when it makes up more than a quarter of the Shire business.

This hasn’t deterred Takeda or its CEO, Christophe Weber, who reaffirmed the company’s intentions in a closed-doors meeting with analysts.

Though journalists were not invited to attend, details have emerged that suggest the company is prepared to take on a significant amount of debt to facilitate the acquisition. Weber also suggested that there would be no attempt to acquire a select part of the business but would instead be looking to move for the entire business.

The risk of the move is fairly clear but Takeda have become increasingly focused on developing beyond the Japanese market, and a Shire acquisition would give it a large position in the US, as well as in Europe.

The Japanese market has been hit by two problem factors – firstly, an ageing population has meant that healthcare costs have skyrocketed for the government, which has reacted by putting strict pricing measures on the industry; secondly, Japan has a dwindling population meaning that it’s future prospects, as a market, look increasingly weak.

With this said, it was apparently put to CFO, James Kehoe, whether the company would move its based to the UK to benefit from a lower tax rate and he replied in the negative, reiterating the importance of being based in Japan.

The markets reacted immediately to the news, with Shire’s shares initially moving up by 6% before settling up 1.4% and saw Takeda’s share price drop by 5%.

A survey of Shire investors showed that they would be looking for a buyout worth £45 per share and would want less than half of the acquisition to be made up of Takeda shares.

The interesting point to watch now, after Takeda seems willing and able to make the move for Shire, will be whether any other companies jump into the race.

Ben Hargreaves

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