Shire to buy NPS for $5.2 billion to boost rare disease drugs

Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:23pm EST
 
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - Shire Plc has agreed to buy U.S. group NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc for $5.2 billion, the Dublin-based drugmaker's biggest acquisition yet as it seeks to strengthen its position in the lucrative field of medicines for rare diseases.

The takeover continues the breakneck pace of deal-making seen last year in the pharmaceuticals sector, as companies jockey for promising assets amid a wave of new drugs emerging from research laboratories, and Shire's chief executive, Flemming Ornskov, told Reuters he would keep looking for more deals to grow the company into a biotech powerhouse.

Shire will pay $46 per NPS share, representing a premium of nearly 10 percent to NPS's Friday close, the two companies said on Sunday.

The move will not come as a huge surprise, since Shire was first linked to NPS in May 2014. When plans for Shire to sell itself to AbbVie Inc fell apart in October, Shire said it could take another look at previous deal prospects and reports of Shire's interest resurfaced in mid-December.

"This is about growth and rare diseases, and it fits hand in glove with our strategy and our franchise," Ornskov said.

Shire expects the all-cash deal to add to its adjusted earnings from 2016 onward. It believes it can achieve cost savings of approximately 25 percent to 35 percent of consensus forecasts for NPS's standalone future operating cost base from 2017.

Analysts at Jefferies said the deal could boost earnings per share from 2016 by at least 12 percent. Shares in Shire edged slightly lower in morning trade on Monday, however, since the NPS deal is likely to reduce talk of Shire as a takeover target.

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The global headquarters of NPS Pharma in Bedminster, New Jersey, is seen in an undated handout picture received by Reuters January 12, 2015.    REUTERS/NPS Pharma/Handout via Reuters