Abbvie makes a grab for Shire
08.07.2014 - Abbvie is determined to bring home British rare disease specialist Shire in a merger worth £30.1bn (€37.9bn).
In May, Abbvie Inc. initially approached Shire plc. with a merger proposal, offering £39.50 for each Shire share. The US pharma company since improved the offer twice, only to have each new offer rejected. By late June, the offer stood at an indicative value £46.26 for each Shire share. Now, Abbvie showed it means business when the US drugmaker increased the proposal once more to £51.15 (€34.36) - approximately 11 percent more than the last one. Abbvie now offers to pay £22.44 (€28.23) in cash and 0.8568 ordinary shares of New Abbvie for each Shire share.
Besieged Shire has not yet commented on the offer, except to say that they are considering the proposal. The board of the British company with Irish headquarters had unanimously rejected the three earlier proposals, saying they fundamentally undervalued the company and its prospects. Whether the increased offer will get the board’s blessing remains to be seen. However, there is not much time left: according to the „put up or shut up“ order – which in the UK restricts the time a potential buyer has to make a firm takeover offer – Abbvie only has until July 18th to close the deal. The drugmaker with headquarters in Chicago is hoping to domicile the new joint company in the UK, thereby circumventing high corporation tax rates in the US.
Abbvie has not yet eliminated the possibility of a hostile takeover – however, experts think this unlikely. In the past, pharma companies have been reluctant to go hostile – in its recent takeover bid, Pfizer said early on it would not go down that path. Meanwhile, Abbvie has urged Shire’s shareholders to consider the offer and put pressure on the Board, adding the company was "willing to move quickly and cooperatively to engage with Shire with a view to achieving a transaction for the benefit of all shareholders". Abbvie Chairman and CEO Richard Gonzalez commented: "Abbvie has made a compelling offer to Shire that creates immediate and long-term value to shareholders of both companies. We think its shareholders should strongly encourage the Shire board to engage in constructive dialogue with Abbvie."