Merger madness: AbbVie and Shire agree to tie knot

Biopharmaceutical rivals announce €53 billion merger


After four unsuccessful bids, biopharmaceutical giant AbbVie has succeeded in acquiring peer Shire after upping its offer at the weekend.

Here’s a brief look at the players invoved in what looks like being the bigger corporate M&A of 2014.



Shire is a Jersey-registered, Dublin-headquartered biopharmaceutical company specialises in treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a range of rare diseases.

The London-listed group, which was founded in 1986 in Britain but conducts most of its business in the United States, has been domiciled in Ireland for tax purposes since 2008.

Shire is a relative rarity in being a mid-sized drugmaker with no controlling shareholder, making it a perennial subject of takeover speculation. Prior to AbbVie's bid, it was approached by Botox-maker Allergan months before the US group itself became a takeover target for Valeant.

But Shire’s reliance on ADHD drugs has put off potential bidders in the past, as using stimulants to treat ADHD in children is seen as controversial.


AbbVie, which was originally part of Abbott Laboratories, develops drug therapies across the areas of liver disease, oncology and women's health.

Abbot completed the spinoff of AbbVie on January 1st, 2013 with the company officially listing on the New York Stock Exchange the following day.

The Illinois-based company employs more than 25,000 people worldwide, include 400 people in the Republic at locations in Dublin, Cork and Sligo.

AbbVie made an initial $46.5 billion bid for Shire in mid-June. However, Shire’s board has rejected four bids from the company but recommended a fifth one to shareholders.

A key benefit of the merger with Shire for AbbVie is that it would enable the firm to move its tax domicile from Chicago to Britain, a move that would reduce the company’s liable tax rate from 22 per cent to 13 per cent.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist