Shire selling oncology unit to France's Servier for $2.4bn

16 April, 2018, 15:44 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Shire are displayed at a chemist's in northwest London Britain

The move comes as Japan's Takeda prepares to bid for the FTSE 100 group.

Ireland-based biotech Shire is selling its oncology business to unlisted French drugmaker Servier for $2.4bn. Shire's shares have lost a little over a fifth of their value over the past year, as compared with about a 1.1-percent drop in the Footsie.

Takeda had identified oncology, along with gastroenterology and neuroscience, as one of the key therapeutic areas which would benefit from the acquisition.

A Takeda spokesman declined to comment. A pursuit of Shire would be one of the biggest attempts by a Japanese company to buy a Western rival.

Still, given the small contribution of the cancer business to Shire's overall profits, Deutsche Bank analysts said this was unlikely to be a deal breaker. Shire also had debt of around $19-billion as of the end of 2017.

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Shire's chief executive Flemming Ornskov called the deal a "key milestone" for the firm, which clearly demonstrates the value embedded in its portfolio.

"The proceeds from the transaction increase optionality and Shire's Board will consider returning the proceeds of the sale to shareholders through a shareholder-approved share buyback after the current offer period regarding Takeda's possible offer for Shire concludes".

Shire has always been seen as a likely takeover target and was almost bought by USA drugmaker AbbVie in 2014, until US tax rule changes caused it to walk away. The Irish-headquartered pharma, which has increasingly turned its focus to rare disease in recent years, had rights to chemotherapy agent Oncaspar and pancreatic cancer treatment Onivyde, both of which are on the market. In 2017, the oncology business generated $262 million in revenue.

"As an essential step in the evolution of the group, this acquisition allows us to establish a direct commercial presence in the United States, the world's leading pharmaceuticals market, and to strengthen our portfolio of marketed products in the territories where Servier is already present", Laureau said.

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