M&A

Whisky, secrets, and code names: behind-the-scenes of Takeda’s $62B Shire bid – Bloomberg

As it turned out, the March 28 statement that launched Takeda’s historic $62 billion bid for Shire shook Takeda execs as much as it did the rest of the biopharma industry.

Christophe Weber

The Japanese drugmaker had assembled a secretive team to work on the deal, with plans to approach Shire’s board by April 1, going so far as to giving the companies code names in the fashion of Japanese whisky brands. Unnamed insiders told Bloomberg that Takeda was dubbed Yamazaki, the nation’s No. 1 single malt, while Shire was compared to a “seductive, blossoming and enigmatic” blend called Hibiki.

But when rumors emerged, the UK takeover panel called on Takeda to confirm its intentions, forcing it to initiate what would become the biggest M&A deal of the year a few days earlier than it had intended to make an offer.

So it did, and made sure to apologize to a surprised Shire.

Susan Kilsby

Weeks of negotiations ensued, with Takeda CEO Christophe Weber and Shire chairwoman Susan Kilsby leading the talks in which Shire’s Flemming Ornskov also played a key role. Weber came prepared, having begun examining Shire’s assets more than two years prior. He and his team had originally considered just purchasing Shire’s neuroscience unit, a potential spinoff sporting a price tag $10 billion to $15 billion, but decided last fall that acquiring all of Shire would diversify its portfolio more. A team of bankers from Evercore, JPMorgan Chase and Nomura Holdings familiar with the Dublin, Ireland-based company were brought in to help.

Flemming Ornskov

Fortunately for Takeda, a bidding war did not erupt as Shire investors had hoped after Allergan said it might jump in for the action. That thought lasted all but a few hours, leaving Takeda ploughing away at four successive offers — and sealing the deal on the deadline of May 8.

But there is little time for Weber to celebrate Takeda’s entry into the list of top 10 global pharma companies. Weber will now have to sell the deal to shareholders while his CSO Andy Plump attempts to cut $600M in R&D costs, while vowing to stay away from slash-and-burn tactics.


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