Takeda offers Japanese sales, admin staffers early retirement in post-Shire slimdown

The ax has fallen on Takeda’s home business in Japan as part of a companywide restructuring triggered by its $59 billion Shire acquisition.

Takeda is offering early retirement to employees in Japan, the company said (Japanese) Tuesday. The so-called “Future Career Program” will be available to those on sales and administrative functions but not in R&D or manufacturing, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Employees as young as 30 years of age who have worked at the company for at least three years can apply between Sept. 28 and Oct. 16, with a target retirement date set for Nov. 30. The early exits will get a severance payment as well as support for finding a new job.

The company didn’t disclose the number of eligible workers. As of March 31, Takeda boasted a global workforce of 47,495 people, of whom 6,509 were based in Japan, according to the company’s annual securities filing.

Takeda hinted at the organizational change in July, as it seeks to break away from Japan’s traditional lifetime employment system. That old arrangement, part of Japan’s career culture, has been slowly fading amid global competition.

When Takeda first unveiled the Shire deal in 2018, the company said it would cut 6% to 7% of the combined workforce, or around 3,600 employees, toward its original annual cost-cutting goal of $1.4 billion. Recently, the drugmaker dialed up that target to $2.3 billion.

RELATED: Teva, Takeda offload generics, manufacturing plant to Nichi-Iko in Japanese venture reshuffle

The latest reduction in Japanese payroll costs comes as the drugmaker pivots to focus on five major business areas, namely gastrointestinal, rare diseases, oncology, neuroscience and plasma-based therapy. In Japan, it moved 170 medical representatives from the primary care department to oncology in April and relocated 50 reps to neuroscience, the company said in July, adding that it would continue to trim and shuffle the organization as new products launch and its pipeline candidates progress.

Takeda aims for 31 new drug approvals in its home country by 2024, including new molecules and global brands already approved outside of Japan.

Against the backdrop of Takeda’s new focus areas and an asset divestment target of $10 billion, rumor has it that the company will shed its Japanese consumer health unit. Local OTC giant Taisho Pharmaceutical has been identified as the leading contender for that business, which could be valued at more than $3 billion, Bloomberg previously reported. 

The company also recently penned a deal to offload most of the generics portfolio and a manufacturing site controlled by a Teva-partnered Japanese joint venture to Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical.