A blister pack containing Mezavant XL anti-inflammatory tablets, produced by Shire Plc, sits on a pharmacy counter in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Shire Studies New Takeover Bid From Takeda After Four Snubs

(Bloomberg) -- Shire Plc is considering a new offer from Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. after the Japanese drugmaker revised its roughly $60 billion bid for the biotechnology company once again.

Shire’s board “is considering its position” on a new bid, the company said in a statement Tuesday after Bloomberg News reported that the companies were nearing a preliminary agreement. The Lexington, Massachusetts-based drugmaker did not disclose the value of Takeda’s latest offer.

The new proposal marks at least the fifth attempt by Takeda to woo Shire since it first expressed interest in a takeover less than four weeks ago. Discussions have revolved around a higher price as well as a possible increase in the cash component, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Under U.K. takeover rules, Takeda must announce a firm offer or abandon its pursuit by Wednesday afternoon. The companies may seek an extension from authorities to finalize talks, the people said, declining to be identified as the discussions are confidential. Talks could also still fall apart, they said. Representatives for Takeda and Shire declined to comment.

Shire shares surged as much as 6.2 percent in London, valuing the company at about 37 billion pounds ($52 billion). Takeda has declined about 24 percent this year, valuing the company at about $35 billion.

Acquiring Shire would vault Takeda, which has few late-stage experimental drugs in its own pipeline, into the ranks of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies. The Japanese company last week raised its offer to 47 pounds a share and lifted the cash portion of the bid after three prior proposals were rejected. Friday’s proposal included 21 pounds a share in cash and 26 pounds apiece in new stock for Shire.

Takeda has been ramping up its takeover ambitions under Chief Executive Officer Christophe Weber, seeking growth overseas amid patent expirations and a shrinking domestic population. A Shire takeover would be by far Takeda’s largest-ever deal and bring it medicines for rare diseases such as hemophilia -- a field that’s luring a growing number of drugmakers that can charge more for unique life-saving drugs than for routine treatment.

S&P Global Ratings has said the acquisition could hurt Takeda’s credit score.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.