Shire is ready to recommend a new 31 billion pounds takeover offer from AbbVie, entering talks on receiving a fifth bid from the U.S. firm - and signalling a return to deal-making for the pharma sector after Pfizer's bid for AstraZeneca failed last month. Melanie Ralph reports.
London-listed Shire pharmaceuticals are getting a boost. Talk of a takeover by U.S firm AbbVie is sending its share price to record levels. Investors are wanting in on the action that could see Shire being snapped up in a 31 billion pound deal. Shire requested the U.S firm up their offer from 51 pounds and 15 pence per share - AbbVie's new bid is over 53 pounds per share, which could very well clinch the deal, which Shire says it will recommend to shareholders. IG's Alastair McCaig. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALASTAIR MCCAIG, MARKET ANALYST, IG: ''I think this looks like a bit of a done deal. Certainly we've been hearing rumours at the back end of last week that the board from AbbVie had been flying to Washington to have some sort of discussions there. Rumours being that the U.S are possibly looking to close the door on this tax benefit official loophole that currently exists of companies getting relocated over to the UK and so we were pretty confident they were going to try force this one through.'' It's the fifth bid from AbbVie. It wants to buy Shire mainly to cut its tax bill by moving its tax base to Britain. It will also benefit from Shire's drug portfolio, which includes drugs for rare diseases. That is, if AbbVie showing its hand doesn't spur other players to come to the table. Neil Unmack is with Reuters Breakingviews: (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEIL UNMACK, BREAKINGVIEWS, REUTERS: ''The one thing which we haven't seen so far is talk about counterbids. Now the assumption going into this M & A saga was that Shire would be a desirable asset and that we would have counterbids from third parties. That maybe an extra twist that we'll see, if we see people now emerging, that there's a number on the table, it will give other potential buyers a chance to see whether it works for them at that price.'' Although Shire was founded in Britain their footprint in the UK is minimal. Its headquarters are in Dublin, it's managed in Boston, and most its sales are in the United States. As a result, it should mean this deal will escape the political backlash that came with Pfizer's pursuit of AstraZeneca.