The Irish drug maker Shire said on Monday that its board was prepared to recommend an improved takeover bid received over the weekend from AbbVie, pending further discussions, paving the way for a merger.
In its latest bid, AbbVie, based in Chicago, has offered to pay cash and stock equal to about 53.20 pounds a share for Shire. That is the equivalent of roughly £31 billion, or about $53 billion.
AbbVie, the maker of the arthritis drug Humira, had previously offered to pay about $51 billion for Shire, which makes Vyvanse and Adderall XR, treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The deal, if completed, would allow AbbVie to reincorporate in Britain and save millions of dollars in taxes in a process known as an inversion. Shire has its headquarters in Ireland and is listed in London.
“The board of Shire has indicated to AbbVie that it would be willing to recommend an offer at the level of the revised proposal to Shire shareholders subject to satisfactory resolution of the other terms of the offer,” Shire said in a statement on Monday. “The board is in detailed discussions with AbbVie in relation to these terms.”
The health care sector has been one of the most active for deals this year, with an estimated $328.8 billion announced through July 10 – a 207 percent increase from the period a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters.
Pharmaceutical companies in particular have been eager to take advantage of inversions, in which they reincorporate outside the United States to lower their corporate taxes and free up money that has been trapped overseas.
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