Buzz: Shire's new CEO sends mixed signals on 'transformational' M&A strategy

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Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire

When Shire's new CEO Flemming Ornskov talks, analysts listen. And then some of them talk to Bloomberg. But their stories aren't always consistent.

What is certain is that Ornskov, the CEO-in-training who will be looking to earn some of the credibility that the market now assigns to Angus Russell, hosted a little get-together for analysts in London Tuesday night. And sometime during his talk he made clear that the company is actively engaged in some exciting takeover talks.

Russell, you may well remember, built his reputation around some key acquisitions that effectively diversified Shire ($SHPG), making it one of the most admired biotechs--and frequently cited takeover targets--in the business.

But after that captivating teaser from Ornskov, the tracks get a little muddy. First, a couple of Bloomberg's sources said that Ornskov talked about two or three advanced negotiations, though he added that none were so advanced that they would be announced this year. One source said one of the deals was "transformational," while another said that transformational deals were still on the table. And then a spokesperson told the business news service that Ornskov said none of the deals were transformational and Bloomberg's sources were confused.

Just to add to the discordant buzz, a third source told Bloomberg that the Shire executives started mixing with guests, telling one group that partnerships would be the preferred method for making deals, rather than acquisitions.

Ornskov's apprenticeship is intended to smooth the short path to the top, which is being attended with some high-level departures, including an exit by Shire HGT president Sylvie Gregoire. Maintaining a clear and consistent message on acquisition strategies is part of the Biotech 101 class. So far, he's getting mixed reviews for the mixed signals.

- here's the article from Bloomberg

Special Reports: Flemming Ornskov - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013 | Sylvie Gregoire - Women in Biotech 2012

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