Takeda shareholders OK Japan’s biggest takeover of foreign firm
TAKEDA Pharmaceutical Co. won approval from shareholders on Wednesday for its plan to purchase Irish drugmaker Shire Plc. for 46 billion pounds ($58 billion), in what would be the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Japanese company.
Although some founding family members and former employees opposed the purchase at an extraordinary meeting, at least 88 percent of Takeda shareholders gave the nod to a plan to buy the Dublin-based company to create the world’s ninth-largest drugmaker with combined sales of about 2.8 trillion yen ($24.8 billion).
“We are delighted that our shareholders have given their strong support to our acquisition of Shire,” Takeda CEO Christophe Weber said in a statement.
Takeda has already won approval from antitrust regulators in relevant countries including Japan, China and the United States. The drugmaker aims to complete the purchase by early January.
The approval came in the face of opposition from a group of shareholders who had sought to vote down the takeover plan since their initial attempt to do so was rejected at a general shareholders’ meeting in June. They believe the deal is too costly to pursue.
At the meeting in the western Japan city of Osaka, an opponent of the takeover asked, “Isn’t the acquisition a gamble?” But Weber said the deal would enable Takeda to strengthen its spending on research and development and gain competitiveness in the pharmaceutical industry.
Opponents include Kunio Takeda and Kazuhisa Takeda, founding family members and a former chairman, and former director of Japan’s largest drugmaker, respectively.
Kazuhisa Takeda told a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo earlier this week that the deal is too risky. “It may be true that Takeda has not been successful in recent years to strengthen its new drugs...But I think Shire is not the answer.”
The merger is expected to increase Takeda’s net interest-bearing debt to more than 5 trillion yen, about 10 times the amount before the acquisition.
Opponents of the Shire acquisition were concerned about the hefty debt and the reduction in earnings per share that will result from the new share issuance to finance the deal.
Takeda is looking to add Londonlisted Shire’s know-how in rare diseases including hemophilia to Takeda’s core businesses of oncology, neuroscience and gastroenterology. More than 60 percent of Shire’s sales have been in the United States.