6:23 PM
 | 
Mar 30, 2018
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Refashioning Takeda

Acquisition of Shire would radically depart from Takeda’s strategy to date

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.’s potential acquisition of Shire plc appears to be timed to take advantage of the chance to acquire products and a global footprint on the cheap.

The combination would create a global biopharma company, which President and CEO Christophe Weber told BioCentury in 2016 was his mandate. In particular, Shire would contribute a strong presence in the U.S., the source of two-thirds of 2017 revenues. Takeda reported that the U.S. accounted for 34% of its revenues through the first nine months of FY17.

Acquiring Shire also would dramatically shift the center of gravity from the core areas Weber selected in 2014 -- GI and CNS diseases, and cancer -- toward immunology, while also adding on hematology and rare diseases.

Some of the immunology products are both large and growing at high rates. And Shire’s immunology and hematology pipeline includes first-in-class assets in Phase III and beyond. However, Shire’s GI, CNS diseases and cancer businesses include maturing products without many obvious near-term successors in the form of first-in-class or differentiated assets.

In addition, the deal seems at odds with at least one of the guiding principles Weber has used to build the company since taking the helm in 2014.

Even as he has overseen numerous pipeline-building acquisitions and licensing deals, Weber has repeatedly said he would be disciplined in the use of capital. According to an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September, that discipline includes maintaining an investment-grade debt ratio.

Weber noted that taking on $4 billion in new debt to finance the February 2017 acquisition of Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. had ratcheted up Takeda’s leverage position to 3.7 times EBITDA. Weber said Takeda did not want to be “overstretched” and would prefer to hold debt down to 2-3 times EBITDA.

Takeda declined to comment for this story. But if the company chooses to “make an approach to Shire regarding a possible offer,” a possibility first revealed on March 28, it’s hard to see how Weber could stick to that principle.

“M&A is one of the scenarios we viewed as a potential outcome.”

Simos Simeonidis, Sarissa Capital

BioCentury’s analysis shows Takeda may struggle to make the numbers work unless the company is willing to take on a considerable amount of new debt while also giving away at least one-third of the combined company.

Takeda shareholders sent the stock down 7% to ¥5,120 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange the day after the potential deal was announced, resulting in a loss of $3 billion in market cap. The Japanese pharma closed the week down 6% to ¥5,183.

In contrast, Shire investors ran the stock up to...

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