Shareholders approve Takeda’s $59bn takeover of Shire

Takeda’s $59 billion acquisition of Shire has been backed by shareholders from both companies, clearing the way for the deal to close early next year.

Shareholder approval was the final hurdle to clear the deal, after a small but influential minority actively campaigned against it.

Including members of the founding family, the rebel shareholders were concerned about the level of debt required to finance the deal – Takeda will take out a bank loan worth almost $32 billion to finance it.

The new Takeda will be the eighth largest pharma in the world by revenue, following the move that harks back to the era of pharma mega-mergers when Pfizer gobbled up several large drug firms such as Wyeth.

But in the end this was a decisive victory for Takeda’s senior management team, led by CEO Christophe Weber.

Christophe Weber

At an extraordinary general meeting held in Osaka, 88% of Takeda’s shareholders voted in favour of the deal and allowed Weber’s team to go ahead and close it in early January.

In a separate meeting yesterday, Shire’s shareholders almost unanimously approved the deal.

Shire is registered in Jersey, and the final stage will be a hearing at the Jersey Court held on 3 January.

This is just a formality, and the deal is set to close by 8 January, in what will be the largest overseas takeover by a Japanese company.

The deal has now cleared all the major antitrust hurdles, after European Union officials last month said it could go ahead as Takeda sells gastro drug Entyvio (vedolizumab).

Just how this will pan out remains to be seen: aside from the huge debts that the company will incur during the merger, the company will be relying partly on income from Shire’s portfolio of rare disease drugs to pay off the loans.

Some of these revenues are already under threat, most notably Shire’s haemophilia franchise, which has competition from a new drug from Roche.

With this move, Weber is swimming against the tide as pharma companies have opted to use smaller biotech buyouts to refresh their development pipelines and their portfolios of drugs in recent years.

All eyes will be on Takeda over the next few years to see whether this $59 billion gamble has paid off, and the new company’s expanded portfolio of rare disease drugs proves successful.

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