Shire US$5.2bn Buy Leads M&A Deals in Pharma Sector

A deal completed at the weekend that will see UK pharmaceutical company Shire acquire US biotech firm NPS Pharmaceuticals for US$5.2bn (£3.4bn) is the biggest of several agreed mergers and acquistions (M&As) in the sector.

The agreement comes two months after a takeover bid for Shire from US firm AbbVie was abandoned. The boards of both Shire and NPS have already approved the deal, which is expected to add to the UK company’s earnings from 2016.

“The acquisition of NPS Pharma is a significant step in advancing Shire’s strategy to become a leading biotechnology company,” said Shire’s chief executive officer (CEO), Flemming Ornskov.

“This is about growth and rare diseases, and it fits hand in glove with our strategy and our franchise,” he added.

Shire is paying US$46 (£30) a share in cash for NPS, which specialises in drugs for gastrointestinal disorders. The figure represents a 51% increase to the price at which NPS shares traded on 16 December, when speculation of a potential deal first emerged.

The announcement was followed by news of several smaller deals in the pharmaceuticals sector.

Swiss group Roche said it would buy a controlling stake in Foundation Medicine, a US molecular and genomic analysis company, in a US$1.18bn deal to strengthen

Roche’s development of personalised cancer therapies.

US group Johnson & Johnson agreed a licence deal with AC Immune of Switzerland worth up to US$509m, which will see the two companies join forces on potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

US group Biogen Idec is to acquire the privately held UK company Convergence Pharmaceuticals, a specialist in chronic pain treatment that was spun out of GlaxoSmithKline in 2010.

Canada’s Tekmira Pharmaceuticals announced an agreed merger with US company OnCore Biopharma, in an all-paper deal to jointly develop treatments for hepatitis B. Reports put the implied market value of the merged company at around US$750m.


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