Sector News

Shire to buy US pharmaceutical firm in £3.4bn deal

January 12, 2015
Life sciences

London-listed drug firm Shire has returned to the deal table with the $5.2bn (£3.4bn) acquisition of a US firm focused on treatments for rare diseases.

Shire, a Dublin-based group listed on the FTSE 100, will pay $46 a share in cash for NPS Pharma, a US company whose main product aims to alleviate bowel disease. The boards of both companies unanimously approved the deal, the first big corporate acquisition of 2015.

Shire is funding the takeover with the help of a $1.7bn breakup fee it received from one-time suitor AbbVie in 2014 after a $54bn merger fell apart last year. Illinois-based AbbVie wanted to buy Shire and move its headquarters to the UK to cut its tax bill, but fell foul of changes in US law designed to stop practices attacked by President Barack Obama as “corporate desertion”.

Shire, best known for drugs to combat hyperactivity, was founded in the UK, but is managed in Boston, headquartered in Dublin, and generates most of its sales in the US.

The firm is increasingly focused on treating rare diseases, conditions affecting fewer than five people in 10,000, and described its latest acquisition as an excellent strategic fit, which it expects to add to its revenues from 2016. Shire believes it can generate increased sales of NPS Pharma’s main product, an injectable treatment for adults with bowel conditions which has been launched in the US. NPS Pharma made losses of $6.2m in the first nine months of 2014, but has net assets worth $131m and other treatments in its pipeline. Shire’s chief executive, Flemming Ornskov, said: “The acquisition of NPS Pharma is a significant step in advancing Shire’s strategy to become a leading biotechnology company.”

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of March.

Shares in Shire rose by 1.5% to £48.17 in early trading on Monday.

By Jennifer Rankin

Source: The Guardian

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