AbbVie raises bid for drugmaker Shire to 51.15 pounds a share

LONDON, July 8 Tue Jul 8, 2014 8:00am EDT

LONDON, July 8 (Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker AbbVie raised its offer for Shire to 51.15 pounds a share on Tuesday, hoping to win over its reluctant target after an earlier offer was rejected.

The London-listed hyperactivity and rare diseases specialist said AbbVie's previous 46.26 pounds cash-and-stock proposal, worth some $46 billion, had fundamentally undervalued the company.

AbbVie is eager to buy Shire both to reduce its tax bill by moving its tax base to Britain - a tactic known as inversion - and to diversify its drug portfolio. The U.S. company currently gets nearly 60 percent of its revenue from rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, the world's top-selling medicine, which loses U.S. patent protection in late 2016.

Chief Executive Richard Gonzalez has pressed the case for his pursuit of Shire in a series of meetings with shareholders on both sides of the Atlantic, after setting out the strategic rationale for a deal on June 25. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Kate Holton)