Takeda investors mount last-minute effort to stymie Shire deal: FT

Takeda HQ
Takeda is preparing for a shareholder vote on its proposed Shire buyout on Dec. 5. (Takeda)

Takeda is pressing ahead to quickly close its massive acquisition of Shire, but the company is running into some last-minute resistance from founding family members and other shareholders ahead of an early December vote.

A group of 130 shareholders and former employees are pushing back against the deal. They own about 1% of the company's stock, but are seeking to gather support from 25% of Takeda's investors to veto the deal, according to the Financial Times.

Additionally, former Takeda chairman Kunio Takeda, who was the last member of the Takeda family to run the drugmaker, has privately come out against the Shire buyout, FT reports, citing two people close to the former exec. He declined to publicly comment on the issue, according to the publication.

Takeda has secured several regulatory approvals for the megamerger and has set a Dec. 5 vote date for the buyout. Takeda aims to close the deal by Jan. 8.

In making his pitch to shareholders, Takeda CEO Christophe Weber said the merger will bolster Takeda’s presence in the gastroenterology and neuroscience treatment areas and move the company into a leading position in rare diseases. He said the deal would provide “global scale to drive future development,” and touted other benefits. According to the FT, he has expressed frustration about the shareholder campaign against the deal after orchestrating it earlier this year.

The dissident shareholders have voiced concern over the debt Takeda will need to take on to fund the deal. Kazu Takeda, a member of the founding family who voiced opposition in September, said Takeda “will no longer be a Japanese company” if it closes the deal, FT reports. Another investor questioned the company’s direction after the Shire deal, wondering whether the company would need more M&A for growth down the line.

Takeda unveiled its massive Shire buyout back in May, touting the $62 billion deal as a way to grow its portfolio with “highly complementary” offerings from Shire. The deal would vault Takeda into the top 10 rankings of big pharma companies.

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So far, the deal has secured regulatory approvals from authorities in the U.S., China, Japan and elsewhere. The company expects to hear from the European Commission this month, setting up a shareholder vote on Dec. 5.  

The Takeda-Shire buyout is pharma’s largest M&A deal in years and will mean significant layoffs upon completion as the companies look to realize cost savings. Already, Takeda has said it’s moving its U.S. headquarters from suburban Chicago to Boston, affecting 1,000 positions. Some employees will receive relocation offers, a spokesperson said.  

Aside from that relocation, Takeda is moving hundreds of R&D jobs to Boston, and a spokesperson said the company cut 480 primary care sales representatives.