LONDON (Reuters) - Pharmaceutical company Shire (SHP.L) is considering a 12 billion pound ($18.32 billion) takeover of Actelion Ltd ATLN.VX Europe's biggest biotech firm, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
An informal approach by Shire was rebuffed several weeks ago, the newspaper said, citing financial industry sources.
Shire was willing to pay 160 Swiss francs a share for Actelion, the sources said, a hefty premium to the stock's Friday closing price of 132 francs.
Asked by Reuters for comment, a spokeswoman for Shire said the company did not comment on speculation. An Actelion spokesman said the company did not comment on market rumors.
Earlier this year, Actelion raised its full-year guidance after strong sales of its new heart and lung drug helped its first-quarter earnings exceed analysts' estimates.
At the time, the company's chief executive told Reuters it had not received any outside interest to buy the company.
In April, Shire reported a better-than-expected 20 percent rise in first-quarter earnings, helped by the launch of the first drug to treat binge eating disorder.
Reporting by William James; additional reporting by Joshua Franklin in Zurich; editing by Jane Merriman and Jason Neely