The mammoth deal that is the Takeda acquisition of the Ireland-based, Shire Pharmaceuticals, has had more bumps in the road than the New Jersey Turnpike. The regulatory review processes in China, the United States, and the E.U. each had their own type of issues relative to this enormous merger proposal.
The news this week is that now that the regulatory hurdles have been largely negotiated successfully (the European Union approved the deal on November 21) the former chairman of the board of Takeda has now come forward to the media in opposition of the merger.
Kunio Takeda, the last member of the family whose name is “on the door”, so to speak, who served in the top position for a period of 16 years; is against the deal because of the high level of risk the company is taking by swallowing up Shire. The full stockholders meeting which will feature a vote on this controversial strategic move will take place on December 5th.
The former chairman leads a group of investors that is also opposed to the deal and this move yesterday to bring those concerns to the media is a concerted attempt to subvert the perception of this proposed acquisition ahead of the crucial vote on the 5th. The merger is not without scrutiny, as many different factions from industry experts, to Wall Street analysts, to shareholders in Europe and the U.S. alike all had doubts that this merger could ever be consummated.
The risk to Takeda is heightened by their recent purchase of Baxalta, and many within the inner circles of the industry were openly questioning their pursuit of a consolidation of Shire. The Irish drug maker, at that time, had sold off their oncology portion of the business and trying to compete in a rapidly changing pharmaceutical landscape.
Takeda will take on significant debt overall from their own balance sheet, to the costs of pulling together a deal of this magnitude ($62 billion), and taking on the debt that Shire has accumulated on their balance sheet. This is the rationale behind the opposition that is being demonstrated within Takeda in recent days.
The argument could be made that Takeda could have stood pat with their success in diabetes and hypertension medications. The company looks to push through this M&A activity with Shire as a way to crack the Top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world. It is apparent that some of the regulators have not considered that we have seen “too big to fail” companies in other industries collapse after biting off more than they could chew. It would be a devastating blow to the overall pharma industry if Takeda went down the path to ruin because of this deal.
The original concerns from the beginning of this proposed deal are still lingering around: the value of the return to the shareholders, the debt taken on by Takeda to make it happen, and the overall valuation of Shire being perhaps inflated. These components, both collectively and individually, do not seem to be throwing the merger train off course here, with some industry news outlets reporting that reps from both companies expect that the deal will be completed in the first week of January.
Takeda is looking at the diamonds in the Shire pipeline, but reportedly have looked at other brands in the Shire domain as potential targets for sale to help pay down some of the enormous debt that will be incurred. These two companies on their own are huge, so the redundancy and lost jobs is another functional reality of such a large merger.
It remains to be seen whether the consumer will benefit from this deal, if it will translate into better leverage for the combined company with the pharmaceutical distributors, it could become a scenario where they jump up the prices on medications to help offset the debt load. This is where the consumer concerns over this merger could become an unfortunate reality.
(Some background information and statistics courtesy of Seeking Alpha, BioSpace.com, CNN, and Asia Nikkei)