Shire is offloading its oncology unit to France's Servier for $2.4bn in push for rare disease crown

Courtney Goldsmith
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France's Servier will take on Shire's oncology portfolio (Source: Getty)

Shares in Ireland-based biotech Shire have zoomed up two per cent this morning after it revealed it will sell its oncology business to France's Servier for $2.4bn (£1.7bn) as it seeks to become a leader in rare disease treatment.

The move complicates a prospective takeover by Japan's Takeda, however.

Last month, Takeda was forced to reveal it was mulling a bid to buy Shire, and it specifically cited Shire's oncology unit as part of its rationale for the deal. It must make any firm offer by 25 April.

"While the oncology business has delivered high growth and profitability, we have concluded that it is not core to Shire's longer-term strategy," said Flemming Ornskov, Shire's chief executive.

"We will continue to evaluate our portfolio for opportunities to unlock further value and sharpen our focus on rare disease leadership with selective disposals of non-strategic assets."

In 2017, Shire's oncology unit made revenues of $262m, and the firm said gross assets included in the transaction are worth about $1.6bn with attributable profits of around $140m.

Ornskov said the board will consider returning the proceeds of the sale back to shareholders through a buyback programme.

The deal is expected to close in the second or third quarter this year.

Olivier Laureau, the group president of Servier, said the deal will enable the company to become a key global player in oncology.

"As an essential step in the evolution of the group, this acquisition allows us to establish a direct commercial presence in the United States, the world's leading pharmaceuticals market, and to strengthen our portfolio of marketed products in the territories where Servier is already present," Laureau said.

Read more: Shares in Takeda and Shire drop after news of a possible deal emerges

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