Shire shares soar as possible takeover tussle looms

London skyline

Takeda said on Thursday it would remain disciplined in its approach and meant to maintain its dividend policy and investment grade credit rating, adding that: "Discussions between the parties regarding a potential offer are ongoing".

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. offered to buy drugmaker Shire Plc for about 42.4 billion pounds ($60 billion), officially kicking off what would be one of the biggest corporate takeovers ever by a Japanese company, Reuters reported. Shire also had debt of around $19 billion as of the end of 2017.

Shares in Shire surged by as much as 12% on Thursday in London trading after two rival drugmakers said they were considering a bid for the biotech company.

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Under CEO Christophe Weber, Takeda has increasingly sought to grow through mergers and acquisitions, in light of the shrinking population in its home market of Japan, as well several patent expirations, including that of blood cancer treatment Velcade® (bortezomib). "Discussions between the parties regarding a potential offer are ongoing", the company said on Thursday.

Shire shares closed the day nearly 6% higher amid the prospect of a possible bidding war.

The latest 46.50 pounds offer was made on April 12 and comprised 17.75 pounds in cash, which would be paid in US dollars, and 28.75 pounds worth of new Takeda shares.

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The company revealed that it received three conditional proposals from Takeda on March 29, April 11 and April 13.

Second proposal-A total £45.50 (about $65) per share, consisting of £28.75 (nearly $41) per share in new Takeda shares, to be listed in Japan and in the US through an ADR listing, and £16.75 (about $24) per share cash.

The first bid valued Shire at £41 billion, and would see Shire shareholders owning around 50% of the enlarged Takeda.

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It would be Weber's boldest move by far, significantly boosting Takeda's position in rare diseases, gastrointestinal disorders and neuroscience, where Shire is a leader in drugs to treat hyperactivity. That would value Shire at approximately 43 billion pounds, or $61 billion, Thomson Reuters data showed.

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