AbbVie Nears $54 Billion Shire Deal

Deal Would Be Latest ‘Inversion’ Play

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LONDON—U.S. drug maker AbbVie Inc. ABBV -0.20% is close to clinching a deal to buy Dublin-based Shire SHPG +2.09% PLC for more than £31 billion ($53.6 billion), in what would be one of the largest so-called inversion deals through which U.S. companies are seeking a lower corporate tax burden.

After four days of renewed talks between the two drug makers, Shire said Monday it had received a revised offer from AbbVie of £53.20 a share over the weekend. Shire said it would be willing to recommend the deal to its shareholders subject to “satisfactory resolution of the other terms of the offer.”

The two sides are negotiating a breakup fee for the deal, as well as discussing management positions and other governance issues, according to a person familiar with the talks.

The latest proposal represents AbbVie’s fifth attempt to take over Shire. At almost $54 billion, a completed acquisition would be a contender for the year’s biggest merger, alongside Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. VRX.T +0.55% ‘s hostile attempt to take over Botox maker Allergan Inc. AGN +0.35% for a similar amount. Shire’s tentative agreement to recommend AbbVie’s new offer is good news for Valeant, as it likely removes Shire as a potential partner for Allergan.


By Hester Plumridge

Graphic by Wall Street Journal


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