Shire PLC has agreed to sell its oncology business to French drugmaker Servier for $2.4 billion, in a deal that could discourage Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. from launching a takeover of the London-listed company.
Takeda said in March it was considering a bid for Shire and identified its oncology business as one of the main reasons for its interest. A pursuit of Shire would be one of the biggest attempts by a Japanese company to buy a Western rival.
Shire said Monday it would consider returning the proceeds from the sale of the oncology business to investors through a share buyback, after Takeda’s current offer period ends on April 25. Under U.K. takeover rules, Takeda has until that date to make an offer for Shire or walk away.
Takeda didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shire said its board of directors initiated the potential divestment of the oncology business in December, long before Takeda signaled its interest in a takeover. The divestment process, which started in January, identified multiple potential buyers across the U.S., Europe and Japan, Shire added.
Shire’s oncology business includes leukemia treatment Oncaspar and marketing rights to pancreatic cancer drug Onivyde outside the U.S. The portfolio also includes Calaspargase Pegol, which is under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s review for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells that comprises more than 80% of childhood leukemia cases. Calaspargase Pegol is also in early stage immuno-oncology pipeline collaborations.
In 2017, Shire’s oncology business generated revenues of $262 million. The profits attributable to the assets being transferred are approximately $140 million, excluding depreciation, amortization and other direct and indirect costs, Shire said.
The sale to Servier is part of Shire’s efforts to sharpen its focus on rare diseases.
Shire Chief Executive Flemming Ørnskov said the company would continue to assess its portfolio for “opportunities to unlock further value.”
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