OXFORD - Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc's agreement to acquire Roberts Pharmaceutical Corp. for $1 billion caught many market watchers off guard, as the company had been expected to do a deal that would boost its European presence. Instead, by merging with RPC, Shire looks more American than many U.S. drug companies (See BioCentury, July 26).

More than 7 out of 10 Shire shares (LSE:SHP; SHPGY) will be in American hands, nearly three-quarters of its sales staff are based in North America, and the U.S. market will account for nearly 90 percent of the combined company's sales. Nevertheless, CEO Rolf Stahel told to BioCentury that SHP has not abandoned its plans to expand eastward into Europe.