Takeda CEO confident about Shire merger

Takeda’s CEO has said he is confident that its $62 billion acquisition of Shire will go ahead, despite a rebellion from a dissident group of shareholders.

Christophe Weber spoke on the matter at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology conference in London, earlier this week.

Discussing the Shire acquisition, he said Takeda is “doing well” as a business. According to Reuters, he added: “We don’t have to do this Shire acquisition. We just feel it is a way to accelerate our progress and evolution.”

The Shire acquisition could be the deal of the year for the pharma industry, and will be the biggest overseas takeover by a Japanese company.

But there are still several hurdles to overcome – Takeda must get regulatory clearance from antitrust watchdogs in countries across the world and a key decision from EU officials was due at the beginning of the week.

However, this part of the process has not proven to be a problem so far – instead the biggest threat comes from within as a group of shareholders from Takeda’s founding family opposes the deal.

EU regulatory clearance will be the last major regulatory approval needed for the deal to go ahead, and Takeda is planning an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders on January 18 to vote on the deal. Shire investors will get a separate vote around that time.

But not all investors are convinced that the deal is the best way forward, as Takeda will have to borrow up to $31 billion from banks to finance the deal.

Citing trade publication DealReporter, Bloomberg reported earlier this week that the investors plan to sue Takeda to obtain details of the board talks leading to the deal signed with Shire in May.

Christophe Weber

“We discuss many confidential topics, and we think board minutes should remain confidential,” Weber told Bloomberg in an interview in London.

He pointed out that the dissident group represents fewer than 100 people, holding less than 1% of the company.

Shigeru Mishima, a financial analyst who is advising the group, told Bloomberg that the group is stepping up its campaign against the merger.

They will send an open letter to retail investors urging them to vote against the deal, Bloomberg reported. Takeda’s share price ticked up following Weber’s comments.

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