M&A

Bitterly opposed old guard at Takeda wages a last-ditch fight to block ‘foreign blood’s’ $62B Shire buyout

As Takeda CEO Christophe Weber pulls the strings for director support in the $62 billion acquisition of Shire, a small group of ex-Takeda employees have put down their foot and vowed to block the proposed deal.

Comprising 130 members, the group holds 1% of the Japanese drugmakers’ shares. To sway the final decision, they need a third of shareholders to also vote no. Their current targets are domestic retail investors and overseas institutional investors who own 25 percent and 35 percent of Takeda shares respectively, an anonymous source told Reuters.

The opposition once again crystallizes tension inside Takeda between its 237-year Japanese heritage and an international leadership — what some has described as “new foreign blood pitted against the old guard in a Japanese company.”

Weber, a French-born exec handpicked by his predecessor Yasuchika Hasegawa, has both symbolized and championed the globalization of the Japanese company, most notably by shifting the bulk of its R&D group to the Cambridge/Boston hub, a long way away from the company’s Tokyo headquarters. His appointment back in 2014 was opposed by what appears to be the same group of shareholders, which (according to Japanese outlet Nikkan Yakygyo) counts members of the founding family among its ranks.

Yujiro Hara, a descendant of the founding family of a pharma company acquired by Takeda who led the campaign against Weber’s appointment, commented to the Wall Street Journal in 2014 that Takeda “is not a Japanese company anymore.” In reference to then-CEO Hasegawa’s decision to buy Nycomed, he said “[m]erging and seeking scale is not the only way to globalize.”

The move is more about drawing attention to “what an irrational deal” the Shire buyout is — given the financial risk and the fact that Roche is encroaching on Shire’s hemophilia franchise — than actually effecting a block, Reuters reports.

And they are making their voices loud and clear through a series of protests. At last year’s general meeting, an ultimately failed attempt to block an additional advisory appointment for Hasegawa garnered 30.5% of votes.

Takeda is planning to hold the extraordinary general meeting in which shareholders will vote on the acquisition in Q4 of this year.


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