Japanese pharma to pay $1.4B for Sciele

In yet another Japanese pharma takeover, Shionogi has agreed to pay $1.42 billion for the Atlanta-based drugmaker Sciele Pharma. That's a $31-per-share cash offer, a 61 percent premium over Sciele's closing price Friday of $19.27.

Why is Sciele worth so much to Shionogi? The Japanese pharma is aiming to launch some anti-obesity and HIV meds in the U.S., and it likes Sciele's sales network. According to the Financial Times, 84 percent of Sciele's 970 workers are sales reps. "Establishing additional overseas sales infrastructure has become an urgent priority for Shionogi," the company said in announcing the deal.

Currently, the lion's share of Shionogi's overseas revenue comes from a licensing deal with AstraZeneca on its cholesterol med Crestor. Obviously, the Japanese firm is looking to diversify and enlarge that sales stream.

Shionogi is in good company. Since December, there have been three big Japanese deals in biopharma: Eisai/MGI Pharma ($3.9 billion), Takeda/Millennium ($8.8 billion), and Daiichi Sankyo/Ranbaxy Labs ($4.6 billion).

- check out the Shionogi release
- read the Financial Times piece
- check out the analysis in the Wall Street Journal