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Shire sells oncology unit to Servier for $2.4bn

16 April 2018

Shire, the Irish rare diseases specialist that is a potential takeover target for Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical, is selling its oncology business to unlisted French drugmaker Servier for $2.4 billion.

The Japanese company had said that it was interested in Shire to strengthen its presence in oncology, gastroenterology and neuroscience, which suggests that Shire's divestment of oncology might make it less attractive. Buying Shire would be transformational for Takeda but would be a huge financial stretch, since the company is now worth around $10 billion more than the Japanese group.

The deal is expected to close in the second or third quarter this year.

"This transaction is a key milestone for Shire, demonstrating the clear value embedded in our portfolio", said Shire chief executive Flemming Ornskov.

Ornskov also noted the Board will consider returning the proceeds of the sale to shareholders through a shareholder-approved share buyback, after the current offer period regarding Takeda's possible offer for Shire comes to an end.

The portfolio also includes Calaspargase Pegol (Cal-PEG), which is under U.S. review for the treatment of ALL and early stage immuno-oncology pipeline collaborations, the firm noted. Its oncology business had sales of $262 million a year ago, putting the divestment on a respectable revenue multiple of 9.2 times.

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Olivier Laureau, Servier Group President, said: "The acquisition of Shire's oncology franchise enables Servier to meet its strategic ambitions to become a global key player in oncology".

In addition, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd is still now in the process of considering approaching Shire with an offer to acquire the group, after Nikkei reported earlier in April that Takeda could value Shire at USD55 billion.

For privately held Servier, acquiring Shire's oncology operation allows it to establish a direct commercial presence in the United States and boosts its presence in cancer.

"Our goal is to bring these treatments to greater numbers of cancer patients around the world".

Shares in Shire were up 1.7% at 3,665.50 pence on Monday.

Shire sells oncology unit to Servier for $2.4bn