UPDATED: Allergan to propose to Shire again, but does Irish beauty want to get engaged?

For Allergan, it could soon be "take over or be taken over," and the California company apparently wants Shire to help it avoid the latter. After some failed talks in recent months, Allergan is readying another go at picking up the Irish company, which could help it dodge an unwanted advance from Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

As sources told Reuters, Allergan ($AGN) is preparing to re-approach Shire ($SHPG) and could present a bid as soon as within the next few days. A merger between the two would create a pharma company with a market cap of nearly $72 billion and annual sales topping $11 billion, the news service notes--if Shire is on board, that is.

After swallowing a poison pill last week to defend against a hostile bid from Valeant ($VRX) and activist investor partner Bill Ackman, an out-of-town buyout is just what Allergan needs. Nabbing a company on foreign soil could help it complete a tax inversion, and Shire--which enjoys Ireland's low 12.5% rate, compared with the U.S.' 35%--would certainly get the job done. If Allergan can find its own tax advantages, it can cancel out one of the biggest selling points in Valeant's $47 billion offer.

Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire

But whether Shire would have any interest in Allergan's plan isn't clear. After all, it's rebuffed the Botox maker once already this year, and as Bloomberg notes, CEO Flemming Ornskov said last year the company would rather be the acquirer than the acquired. Indeed, the company last summer reportedly enlisted financial advisers to fight a potential unwanted takeover amid rumors that a hostile bid was coming. And since then, Shire has done its own dealmaking, landing orphan drugmaker ViroPharma ($VPHM) for $4.2 billion.

"As Shire's CEO has only just completed his first year in the job, we would assume a preference for the company remaining independent," Citigroup analyst Peter Verdult wrote in a note seen by Bloomberg.

Allergan may have a backup plan, however. As Bloomberg reports, the company has contacted companies including Sanofi ($SNY) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) to assess their interest in an acquisition; both are considering their options, the news service's sources say.

- read the Reuters story
- get more from Bloomberg here and here

Special Reports: Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2013 - Shire/ViroPharma | The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013 - Flemming Ornskov - Shire

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information about a possible sale to Sanofi or Johnson & Johnson.