Shire Announces Sale of Oncology Business to Servier for $2.4 Billion

Shire is offloading its oncology unit to France's Servier for $2.4bn in push for rare disease crown

Shire's shares have lost a little over a fifth of their value over the past year, as compared with about a 1.1-percent drop in the Footsie.

Takeda, which is Japan's largest drugmaker by sales, first revealed its interest in Shire at the end of March and is said to be weighing up a US$50bn bid for the United Kingdom group.

Shire Plc (LON:SHP) has agreed to sell off its oncology division to French pharma group Servier for US$2.4bn, raising doubts over the likelihood of a bid from Japanese drugmaker Takeda.

Takeda clearly stated that strengthening its core therapeutic area of oncology (alongside gastrointestinal and neuroscience) was a key reason it wanted to gobble up Shire.

A Takeda spokesman declined to comment. The process identified multiple potential strategic buyers across the U.S., Europe and Japan, Shire said. Shire also had debt of around $19-billion as of the end of 2017.

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Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said last week that Takeda had sounded out its major creditors for loans to fund a potential Shire bid. While the oncology business has delivered high growth and profitability, we have concluded that it is not core to Shire's longer-term strategy.

Ornskov said the board will consider returning the proceeds of the sale back to shareholders through a buyback programme.

Shire has always been seen as a likely takeover target and was almost bought by USA drugmaker AbbVie in 2014, until US tax rule changes caused it to walk away. In 2017, the oncology business generated $262 million in revenue.

Shire's oncology business includes in-market products Oncaspar (pegaspargase), a component of multi-agent treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and ex-US rights to Onivyde (irinotecan pegylated liposomal formulation), which is part of a treatment regimen for metastatic pancreatic cancer post gemcitabine-based therapy. Those and all other early-stage immuno-oncology pipeline collaborations will now go to Servier.

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