Shire sells oncology business to France's Servier for $2.4bn

Monday, 16 Apr, 2018

The drugmaker said its board will consider using proceeds for a stock buyback after Takeda decides whether to go through with its contemplated offer.

Shire chief executive Flemming Ornskov said the sale of the oncology business to Servier demonstrated the value embedded in Shire as shares in the company rose 0.5 per cent as markets opened.

Under the terms of the agreement, Servier has agreed to acquire Shire's oncology business for a total consideration of $2.4 billion, in cash, upon completion.

Last month, Japanese pharmaceuticals giant Takeda was forced to reveal it was mulling a bid to buy Shire, which boosted the London-listed drugmaker's shares.

The deal comes as Takeda boss Christophe Weber is understood to be lining up meetings with its major holders ahead of making a potential £35bn offer for Shire. Under UK takeover rules, Takeda has until April 25th to announce whether or not it will bid for Shire, which has a market value of around $47 billion. One analyst said that the unit was considered to be non-core for Shire.

In addition, a tie-up would help realise the Japanese company's R&D strategy, drive financial value and allow it to exploit further opportunities in the US. In 2017, the oncology business generated revenues of $262 million.

If a deal were to be struck, it would see the hunter become the hunted after Shire itself went on the acquisition trail only two years ago when it bought Baxalta for 32 billion United States dollars (£22.6 billion).

When stripped of legacy Baxalta sales, revenues rose only 11% to 1.8 billion USA dollars (£1.39 billion).

Shire's oncology business includes in-market products Oncaspar (pegaspargase), a component of multi-agent treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and ex-US rights to Onivyde (irinotecan pegylated liposomal formulation), which is part of a treatment regimen for metastatic pancreatic cancer post gemcitabine-based therapy. "Our goal is to bring these treatments to greater numbers of cancer patients around the world", commented Servier group president Olivier Laureau.