Takeda divests Chinese JV for $280M after reaching Shire deal

Takeda US facility
Just last week, Takeda CEO Christophe Weber outlined a plan to slash costs without snuffing out innovation. (Takeda)

Takeda's $62 billion acquisition of Shire will vault it into the 10 pharma companies worldwide, but will also saddle it with a substantial debt load. Now, the Japanese drugmaker is looking to trim the fat where it can—starting by selling off its stake in the Chinese biopharma company Techpool. 

Guangdong Techpool Bio-Pharma conducts “research, discovery and marketing of urinary protein biopharmaceuticals and production of biopharmaceuticals in critical care." It markets two drugs in China: one treats acute and chronic pancreatitis and acute circulatory failure, while the other treats mild to moderate acute thrombotic cerebral infarction. 

Takeda will sell its majority 51.34% stake in Guangdong Techpool Bio-Pharma to its joint venture partner, Shanghai Pharma, for $280 million.

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“This agreement provides Takeda with even greater focus to continue to meet the unmet needs of patients in China, and maintain our position as ‘best-in-class’ in our global therapeutic areas of focus, especially Gastroenterology and Oncology,” said Sean Shan, president, Takeda China and area head for Takeda Greater China. “Takeda is committed to China and will continue to strive to keep patients at the center of everything we do, both locally and across the globe.”

While $280 million is a drop in the bucket for a company that just added $31 billion to its debt, the divestiture is just one of many moves Takeda plans to make to cut its spending and keep earnings high. 

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Just last week, Reuters reported, Takeda CEO Christophe Weber outlined a plan to slash costs without snuffing out innovation. It includes bringing in one or more large, long-term investors, such as a government fund. The company is in talks with potential suitors, though Weber kept the details under wraps. 

The plan also involves getting rid of R&D programs that aren't innovative enough to keep around. Takeda might spin these programs off into separate biotechs in which it could retain a stake, or just abandon them altogether, Weber said. However the company handles this, it will have to do so without crippling R&D: "It's very important that we keep the momentum and don't get disrupted," Weber said. "We rely on R&D to grow."

Takeda expects to save $1.4 billion by the end of the three years after the deal closes and slash 6% to 7% of the combined workforce, about 3,600 employees based on the companies' latest employee tallies.

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