Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Takeda secures US$62bn Shire deal after long battle


Takeda Pharmaceutical Co chief executive officer Christophe Weber has faced a string of challenges in his US$62 billion pursuit of UK drugmaker Shire PLC. The Japanese company’s shares have tumbled, dissident shareholders have complained and Shire repeatedly rebuffed his bids before agreeing to a deal.

Now the Frenchman has scored a big victory with Takeda yesterday saying the deal received support from at least 88 percent of votes at a special shareholders meeting in Osaka.

That clears one of the last hurdles for the biggest acquisition announced globally this year. Shire’s shareholders were to vote later yesterday, and if they approved the deal, it would be on track to close on Jan. 8.

Weber, 52, is now poised to head one of the world’s biggest drugmakers with lucrative therapies for rare diseases and a sizable footprint in the US, but it also leaves him managing more than US$30 billion in additional debt, and he faces pressure to ensure that the 237-year-old company holds on to its Japanese heritage.

The cash flow from the deal gives Takeda three to five years of added time to build up its own pipeline of experimental drugs, most of which are still in the early stages of development, Credit Suisse analyst Fumiyoshi Sakai said in a Nov. 19 interview.

“Takeda is buying time,” Sakai said. “In that sense, Shire is the perfect match to fill in the gap. Now is ¥7 trillion (US$62 billion) worth five years? That’s yet to be seen.”

Weber is Takeda’s first foreign CEO and one of the few senior international leaders left in Japan.

He has sought to revive growth by revamping its research department and expanding overseas as the Japanese market slows.

A small group of Takeda shareholders in Japan publicly campaigned against the Shire deal in the past few months.

Its members said they are primarily concerned with the financial risk of the added debt, as well as the effect on earnings and the company’s dividend.

Some said that Takeda would no longer be a Japanese company if the deal went through.

Weber has sought to persuade investors of the benefits of acquiring Shire, saying that the added cash flow would help fund research.

The combined company’s headquarters would be in Japan.

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