MAR­KETS Takeda share­hold­ers agree $60b Shire ac­qui­si­tion

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TOKYO — Share­hold­ers at Ja­panese drug giant Takeda yes­ter­day ap­proved a plan to buy Ir­ish phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals firm Shire in a deal worth around US$ 60 bil­lion, the big­gest for­eign takeover ever by a Ja­panese firm.

A group of rebel in­vestors, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the found­ing fam­ily, tried to thwart the deal but were out­voted at an ex­tra­or­di­nary share­hold­ers’ meet­ing held in the western city of Osaka where the com­pany has its head­quar­ters.

The scheme was “ap­proved as orig­i­nally pro­posed”, said a state­ment from Takeda, adding it should come into ef­fect in early Jan­uary – pend­ing ap­proval from Shire share­hold­ers, who are to vote on the merger plan later yes­ter­day in Dublin.

The deal, which will cre­ate one of the world’s top 10 drug com­pa­nies, caps a lengthy courtship by Takeda of its larger ri­val as it seeks to ex­pand over­seas.

“We are de­lighted that our share­hold­ers have given their strong sup­port to our ac­qui­si­tion of Shire,” said Takeda CEO Christophe We­ber.

An­a­lysts have said the buy­out would be a smart move by Takeda as it looks to di­ver­sify, and could pay off in the long-term, but it has also raised con­cerns that the Ja­panese firm could be overex­tend­ing it­self fi­nan­cially.

Takeda plans to fi­nance the 46- bil­lion- pound ($ 58.4 bil­lion) buy­out through is­su­ing new shares in ex­change for Shire stock, bank loans and bond is­suance.

Shares in Takeda closed up 1.07 per­cent at 4,240 yen on the Tokyo Stock Ex­change as in­vestors cheered the share­hold­ers’ ap­proval.

“The ap­proval prompted buy­backs,” said Makoto Sen­goku, mar­ket an­a­lyst at Tokai Tokyo Re­search In­sti­tute.

“The com­pany averted the worst-case sce­nario in which op­po­si­tion to the deal wins and throws its busi­ness plan­ning into a mess,” he said.

But Sen­goku noted the price was still down more than 30 per­cent from around 6,500 yen at the start of the year as in­vestors wor­ried over a di­lu­tion of the stock’s value due to the planned issu- eroded by com­pe­ti­tion from generic medicines.

Ja­panese firms in par­tic­u­lar are fac­ing pres­sure do­mes­ti­cally as the gov­ern­ment tries to cut prices of many branded drugs and in­crease the fo­cus on cheaper gener­ics to curb health spend­ing as the pop­u­la­tion ages rapidly.

Takeda, led by French­man We­ber, has been ac­tively look­ing over­seas for ac­qui­si­tions.

In 2011 it took over Swiss ri­val Ny­comed for 9.6 bil­lion eu­ros ($13.6 bil­lion at the time).

An­a­lysts have de­scribed Shire as an at­trac­tive tar­get for Takeda, with a port­fo­lio of ex­ist­ing treat­ments in fields where the bar­ri­ers to en­try are high and prof­its large.

In par­tic­u­lar, Shire will give Takeda ac­cess to re­search and de­vel­op­ment in fields the Ja­panese firm has long sought, in­clud­ing di­ges­tive sys­tems, men­tal ill­ness and rare dis­eases.

The new firm would be “more com­pet­i­tive, ag­ile, highly prof­itable, and there­fore more re­silient... poised to de­liver highly in­no­va­tive medicines and trans­for­ma­tive care to pa­tients around the world”, said We­ber.

The deal is by far the largest ac­qui­si­tion of a for­eign firm by a Ja­panese com­pany, dwarf­ing SoftBank Group’s 2016 pur­chase of Bri­tain’s ARM Hold­ings in a $24.3 bil­lion deal.

It falls well short, how­ever, of break­ing in­ter­na­tional records. — AFP

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