Deadline day starts to loom for AbbVie’s takeover bid for Shire

Michael Bow
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US drug giant AbbVie will embark on a final push to land UK rival Shire this week after meeting with representatives of the business over the weekend to thrash out a $30bn plus takeover deal.

The US firm has until Friday to submit a proposal under Takeover Panel rules or walk away for at least six months under the panel rules.

A further offer would be the fifth bid the US company has made for the Dublin-based drugmaker, following a rejection of three previous offers and last week’s latest proposal

Shire confirmed it had met AbbVie on Friday but said there can be “no certainty that any firm offer will be made”.

It came in the wake of reports that AbbVie chief executive Richard Gonzalez had started negotiations with his Shire counterpart Flemming Ornskov after the US firm hiked its offer to £51.51 a share earlier last week.

A price of £53 a share has been mooted as the hurdle AbbVie will have to pass in order to get the recommendation of the board on a deal.

Abbvie's offer, originally valued at £51.51, has fallen as its share price has dropped, reducing the value of its cash and shares offer. The group has offered just under half in cash with the rest in shares.

A deal would mark a further piece of consolidation of the pharmaceutical sector, which has been undergoing a redrawing of lines in recent months.

The biggest deal off all – a £69bn deal by Pfizer to takeover AstraZeneca – failed to complete despite strong shareholder support.

That could be revived as soon as next month if AstraZeneca agrees to open with discussions with Pfizer. It is understood that Shire shareholders have called on its board to enter into discussions with AbbVie over a takeover.

AbbVie has pushed shareholders to encourage Shire to open up its books for due diligence.

A CORPORATE jet owned by AbbVie has become one of the most-watched aircraft in the world in recent weeks, as analysts look for early hints of how the US firm’s attempt to acquire Shire Is progressing.

The eight-year old Bombardier Challenger 300, worth more than $10m (£5.84m) can be tracked online and is being followed closely by the industry.

In the middle of last week the plane set off from Chicago, where AbbVie is headquartered, to Washington DC, then to New Jersey and Boca Raton, Florida The moves are being assessed for any signal of the deal’s progress.

There is no way of telling who exactly is using the plane or why, but with space for only nine passengers the jet is likely to be used largely by the firm’s most senior executives.

And with its sumptuous white leather chairs and wood panelling, it should help AbbVie’s top brass work in comfort while they plot their next move for drug rival Shire.