As Shire stays silent, some investors urge talks with AbbVie

Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:35am EDT
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By Anjuli Davies and Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - Some top investors in Shire (SHP.L: Quote) are urging it to engage with AbbVie (ABBV.N: Quote) to discuss the U.S. drugmaker's $51 billion takeover bid as a prolonged silence from the London-listed drugmaker adds to uncertainty over a possible deal.

AbbVie, which wants to buy Shire to cut its tax bill and diversify its product line-up, raised its cash-and-stock offer for Shire to 51.15 pounds a share on Tuesday, though this value has since fallen to around 50 as AbbVie shares have slipped.

"Based on the new bid, we think Shire should engage,” one top-five Shire shareholder told Reuters on Friday.

Shire shares were 1.2 percent up on the day at 46.55 pounds by 1415 GMT.

Other Shire shareholders have also written to the company's board expressing their support for a deal and have called on Chairwoman Susan Kilsby to open talks with AbbVie's Chairman and CEO Richard Gonzalez, several people with direct knowledge of the situation said.

They argue that 51 pounds is a good enough number for Shire to allow for due diligence, so that the two sides can negotiate a final deal price.

But after rejecting three previous proposals from AbbVie, which it said fundamentally undervalued the company, Shire has still not responded publicly to the latest offer.

Industry sources said the hyperactivity and rare diseases specialist was in constant communication with its shareholders and was weighing their feedback, but it remained unclear which path the Shire board would take.   Continued...

Vitamins made by Shire are displayed at a chemist's in northwest London July 11, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett