Shire's Baxalta buyout looks more and more likely as year winds down

Shire ($SHPG) has made another overture at stubborn buyout target Baxalta ($BXLT), according to reports, increasing the odds of a deal before year's end even as the latter company is said to seek rival offers.

Back in August, Baxalta dismissed Shire's initial bid, $30 billion in stock, as a "low-ball" proposition. But Shire has returned with a new figure that is more in line with Baxalta's self-appraisal, according to Reuters. And, according to the Financial Times, Shire has sweetened the deal by adding a cash component to its all-stock offering, angling to get the framework of a merger in place before the end of 2015.

But Baxalta isn't in a rush, the FT reports, citing unnamed sources who say the company is soliciting alternative buyout offers to make sure there's nothing more lucrative on the table before it signs a deal with Shire. Analysts have suggested Sanofi ($SNY) and AbbVie ($ABBV) as potential white knights that might take a look at bidding on Baxalta.

Shire's courtship of Baxalta began in July, just days after the company spun out from Baxter ($BAX). Shire went public with its intentions about a month later, saying a merger would create the world's largest rare disease drugmaker and lead to combined revenue of more than $20 billion by 2020.

Baxalta has spent the ensuing months saying that its brightest future lies in staying independent. The company has about 40 programs in development across hematology, oncology and rare diseases, and management believes its investigational products can add $2.5 billion in annual sales to the roughly $6 billion in revenue it brings in now.

- read the Reuters story
- here's the FT report

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