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Shire jettisons oncology unit for $2.4bn, unbalancing Takeda deal

Published on 16/04/18 at 08:05am

Shire has announced that it has entered a definitive agreement for French drugmaker Servier to take on its oncology business.

The latter will pick up the unit for $2.4 billion in cash, with the deal expected to close by the second or third quarter of 2018.

Shire has been looking for a buyer for its oncology portfolio since December, despite the business generating revenues of $262 million in 2017.

Flemming Ornskov, Shire’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “This transaction is a key milestone for Shire, demonstrating the clear value embedded in our portfolio. While the oncology business has delivered high growth and profitability, we have concluded that it is not core to Shire’s longer-term strategy. We will continue to evaluate our portfolio for opportunities to unlock further value and sharpen our focus on rare disease leadership with selective disposals of non-strategic assets.”

It will not have escaped notice that the conclusion of this deal has occurred a little over a week prior to deadline that Takeda have to submit a formal offer for the whole business.

There is no suggestion that Shire’s oncology unit underpinned Takeda’s move for company, with the major draw being the rare disease unit, but the former’s oncology products would have slotted into its portfolio and had been pointed to as a means of ensuring synergies should the takeover go ahead.

Takeda has a portfolio concentrating on gastrointestinal, oncology and neuroscience medicines – Shire could still boost the latter, whilst adding rare diseases, but the loss of the oncology unit would make the acquisition an even more difficult sell to investors, already nervous about the levels of debt the Japanese company would have to take on to pursue the deal.

Shire’s oncology portfolio includes Oncaspar, a component of multi-agent treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and ex-US rights to Onivyde, a component of multi-agent treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer post gemcitabine-based therapy.

The portfolio also includes Calaspargase Pegol, which is under FDA review for the treatment of ALL, and early stage immuno-oncology pipeline collaborations.

Ben Hargreaves

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