Exclusive: Allergan eyes new takeover bid for Shire - sources

LONDON/NEW YORK Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:13pm EDT

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LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Allergan Inc (AGN.N), facing an unsolicited bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRTX.O), is preparing to approach Shire Plc (SHP.L) again about a potential takeover after being rebuffed in recent months, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Allergan, the maker of Botox with a market capitalization of nearly $50 billion, is trying to stay independent. It held talks in recent months with Shire about a potential takeover that did not pan out, Reuters reported last week.

The U.S. dermatology drugmaker, which has since received a $47 billion takeover offer from Valeant teamed up with activist investor Bill Ackman, is still interested in a tie-up with Shire and planning a fresh approach to the $32 billion Irish drugmaker, said the people familiar with the matter.

Allergan could come back for a bid as soon as in the next few days, one person added. The plan has yet to be finalized and could change, cautioned the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is not public.

A representative of Allergan declined to comment, while Shire could not be immediately reached for comment.

A combination of Allergan and Shire would create a pharmaceutical giant with a combined market value of nearly $72 billion and annual sales of more than $11 billion.

Buying Shire would also help Allergan in its defense against Valeant, and Allergan could use Dublin-based Shire as a vehicle for a tax inversion deal that would lower its tax rate.

Shire had rebuffed Allergan's deal overture earlier this year, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week, and it is not clear if the drugmaker would be open to entering into merger discussions.

In a process known as inversion, U.S. drugmakers seek to relocate their headquarters to other countries with lower tax rates. These companies are eying potential targets that are based in Ireland in particular because of a low 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, compared to 35 percent in the United States.

Generic drugmaker Mylan Inc (MYL.O) is also looking at acquisition targets that are based outside of the United States because of competitive pressures from rivals with a less burdensome tax structure, and it has made an unsuccessful bid for Swedish drugmaker Meda (MEDAa.ST).

(Reporting by Anjuli Davies and Sophie Sassard in London, Additional reporting by Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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