Shire shares rock­et up af­ter Take­da says it's pon­der­ing a takeover bid

Take­da said ear­ly Wednes­day that it is con­sid­er­ing mak­ing an of­fer to buy Shire $SH­PG, and it has a clear­ly thought out a set of rea­sons why.

As of now, Take­da said in a state­ment that it has made no for­mal of­fer for Shire, but is ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty. That’s ex­act­ly in line with takeover rules to sat­is­fy UK reg­u­la­tors. And Shire’s shares im­me­di­ate­ly blast­ed up­ward, jump­ing 17%. The com­pa­ny start­ed the day with a mar­ket cap of $38 bil­lion.

Christophe We­ber

For Take­da CEO Christophe We­ber, a Shire ac­qui­si­tion would dri­ve a big ex­pan­sion in the Boston area, where the Japan­ese com­pa­ny has been con­cen­trat­ing much of its R&D op­er­a­tions. R&D chief Andy Plump is based in the Boston area, and Shire has been ready­ing new fa­cil­i­ties for it­self in Cam­bridge, near its main in­ter­na­tion­al head­quar­ters in Lex­ing­ton, MA.

A buy­out would al­so come af­ter Take­da had shak­en up its R&D struc­ture glob­al­ly, cut­ting back on staff while do­ing more deals with part­ners like De­nali.

In a state­ment out this morn­ing, Take­da spelled out why it’s prep­ping a bid. A deal, the com­pa­ny said, would:

  • strength­en Take­da’s core ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas of on­col­o­gy, GI and neu­ro­science
  • ac­cel­er­ate Take­da’s vi­sion to be a leader in spe­cial­ized med­i­cines that are trans­for­ma­tive to pa­tients through the ad­di­tion of Shire’s lead­ing glob­al rare dis­ease fran­chise
  • fur­ther en­hance Take­da’s ro­bust R&D strat­e­gy, con­cen­trat­ing on key ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas
  • re­in­force a strong and large-mol­e­cule fo­cused late-stage pipeline with­in Take­da’s core ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas to com­ple­ment Take­da’s own pipeline and dis­cov­ery ca­pa­bil­i­ties
  • bal­ance Take­da’s ge­o­graph­ic fo­cus to align with the mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ty in the US
  • dri­ve fi­nan­cial val­ue from a strong com­bined fi­nan­cial pro­file
Flem­ming Orn­skov

Shire is still in the midst of a com­plete makeover of its own en­gi­neered by CEO Flem­ming Orn­skov, who has steered the com­pa­ny in­to the rare dis­ease busi­ness while con­sid­er­ing op­tions for pos­si­bly spin­ning out its AD­HD di­vi­sion. Orn­skov lined up  the $32 bil­lion buy­out of Bax­al­ta, but an­a­lysts have been skep­ti­cal about Shire’s fu­ture in light of the big changes it faces as Roche rolls out Hem­li­bra, grab­bing mar­ket share in the he­mo­phil­ia mar­ket.

Shire has fre­quent­ly been raised as a po­ten­tial takeover tar­get, and came close to merg­ing in­to Ab­b­Vie four years ago. That deal fell through with the in­tro­duc­tion of new rules mak­ing cap­i­tal in­ver­sions dif­fi­cult, pre­vent­ing the tax ben­e­fits Ab­b­Vie sought in buy­ing a com­pa­ny which is of­fi­cial­ly based in Ire­land. But the com­pa­ny re­mained a fre­quent­ly cit­ed takeover tar­get, most re­cent­ly at the end of last year, with an­a­lysts won­der­ing if Pfiz­er would make a move.

Now you can ex­pect plen­ty of spec­u­la­tion to fol­low, as an­a­lysts won­der aloud whether Pfiz­er and oth­er po­ten­tial bid­ders will step up to make this an auc­tion.

By the rule book, Take­da now has un­til 5 pm (Lon­don time) on April 25th to make a bid.

Not every­one would con­clude that a buy­out is a good idea.

“While it is im­pos­si­ble to say nev­er on M&A, Shire does not strike us as an ob­vi­ous takeover can­di­date,” said UBS at the time, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Fi­nan­cial Times. “Shire’s spe­cial­ty fo­cus and mix of ther­a­peu­tic fo­ci means that most buy­ers would strug­gle to ex­tract sub­stan­tial op­er­a­tional syn­er­gies while es­cap­ing from com­pe­ti­tion prob­lems, in our view. Shire is based in Ire­land, which means a very low cor­po­rate tax rate, which would most prob­a­bly rise in most sce­nar­ios were the com­pa­ny ac­quired. It would al­so be a bold ac­qui­si­tion in our view giv­en the un­cer­tain tra­jec­to­ry of Shire’s haemophil­ia busi­ness.”

 

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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José Basel­ga finds promise in new class of RNA-mod­i­fy­ing can­cer tar­gets, lock­ing in 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams with $55M

Having dived early into some of the RNA breakthroughs of the last decades — betting on Moderna’s mRNA tech and teaming up with Silence on the siRNA front — AstraZeneca is jumping into a new arena: going after proteins that modify RNA.

Their partner of choice is Accent Therapeutics, which is receiving $55 million in upfront payment to steer a selected preclinical program through to the end of Phase I. After AstraZeneca takes over, the Lexington, MA-based startup has the option to co-develop and co-commercialize in the US — and collect up to $1.1 billion in milestones in the long run. The deal also covers two other potential drug candidates.

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Bris­tol-My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

Covid-19 roundup: Mod­er­na read­ies to en­ter PhI­II in Ju­ly, As­traZeneca not far be­hind; EU ready to ne­go­ti­ate vac­cine ac­cess with $2.7B fund

Moderna may soon add another first to the Covid-19 vaccine race.

In March, the mRNA biotech was the first company to put a Covid-19 vaccine into humans. Next month, they may become the first company to put their vaccine into the large, late-stage trials that are needed to prove whether the vaccine is effective.

In an interview with JAMA editor Howard Bauchner, NIAID chief Anthony Fauci said that a 30,000-person, Phase III trial for Moderna’s vaccine could start in July. The news comes a week after Moderna began a Phase II study that will enroll several hundred people.

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Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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