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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

UK drug maker Shire to recommend $64bn Takeda takeover at fifth attempt

If successful, it would be the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company

<p>Vitamins made by Shire&nbsp;at a chemist&#39;s in London. The British firm is willing to recommend takeover bid from Japan&#39;s Takeda. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters</p>
<p>Vitamins made by Shire&nbsp;at a chemist&#39;s in London. The British firm is willing to recommend takeover bid from Japan&#39;s Takeda. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters</p>

Rare disease drug maker Shire said on Tuesday it was willing to recommend a sweetened $64 billion offer from Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical to shareholders, in what could be the biggest acquisition of a drug company this year.

But shares in Takeda tumbled further on Wednesday, losing 7 per cent as investors fretted over its ability to buy a company twice its size. Its stock slide - 18 per cent since the news of a possible bid broke - also makes the cash-and-share deal less appealing to Shire shareholders.

The latest development, first reported by Reuters, comes after London-listed Shire rejected four previous offers from Takeda and will leave Shire shareholders owning half of the combined company.

The fifth offer is worth £49.01 per share, comprised of £27.26 per share in new Takeda shares and £21.75 per share in cash.

That represents a 4.3 per cent premium to Takeda's fourth proposal on April 20 and an 11.4 percent premium to its first approach on March 29.

Shire, a member of Britain's benchmark FTSE 100 stock index, said its board agreed to extend a Wednesday regulatory deadline to May 8 so Takeda can conduct more due diligence and firm up its bid. Shire added the deadline may be extended further if needed.

Any deal is subject to the resolution of several issues, including completion of due diligence by Shire on Takeda, the Dublin-based company said.

A deal would significantly boost Takeda's position in gastrointestinal disorders, neuroscience, and rare diseases, including a blockbuster haemophilia franchise.

If successful, it would be the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company and propel Takeda, led by Frenchman Christophe Weber, into the top ranks of global drug makers.

Weber, who became Takeda's first non-Japanese CEO in 2015, has said publicly it was looking for acquisitions to reduce its exposure to a mature Japanese pharmaceutical market.

The combined company would have its primary listing in Tokyo and also offer American Depository Receipts - a move which will give Shire investors an opportunity to cash out more easily.

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But the transaction would be a huge financial stretch, and Takeda investors have been skeptical about the merits of a Shire deal, given the size of the potential purchase and concerns that a large share issue will be needed to fund it. Ambitious cost cutting is also seen as necessary to make the deal pay.

"Takeda's shares have been valued for their stability and relatively high dividend," said Daiwa Securities analyst Kazuaki Hashiguchi, adding that this made them attractive even to investors without specialist knowledge of the drug sector.

By contrast Shire is a much less stable prospect, leading to anxiety among some investors, he said.

Takeda, now worth $33bn by market value, had $4.3bn in cash and short-term investments as of end-December. It said on Wednesday it intended to maintain its dividend policy and investment-grade credit rating following the deal.

Dealmaking has surged in the drug industry this year as large players look to improve their pipelines. A Takeda-Shire transaction would be by far the biggest.

Shire has long been seen as a likely takeover target.

Botox-maker Allergan said last week it was considering making a rival offer, only to scrap it hours later due to push back from shareholders. Shire was also nearly bought by US drugmaker AbbVie in 2014, until US tax rule changes caused the deal to fall apart.

Shire traces its roots back to 1986, when it began as a seller of calcium supplements to treat osteoporosis, operating from an office above a shop in Hampshire. Since then it has grown rapidly through acquisitions to generate revenues of about $15.2bn last year.

But it has been under pressure in the past 12 months due to greater competition from generic drugs and debt from its $32bn acquisition of Baxalta in 2016, a widely criticised deal.

It announced last week a sale of its oncology business to unlisted French drug maker Servier for $2.4bn.

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