Apprentice Shire CEO nabs a PhII rare disease drug in latest buyout

Shire's new CEO apprentice has closed on his first buyout deal for the company. Flemming Ornskov took the lead this morning in announcing that Shire ($SHPG) has snapped up the Swedish biotech Premacure AB in a deal that will add a near late-stage, rare disease program to the company's bustling Human Genetic Therapies group in Lexington, MA. 

Flemming Ornskov

Shire, which has been widely lauded for its ability to use new acquisitions to effectively diversify its business around the globe, will use the deal to jump into a new therapeutic area--neonatology. But the company--which frequently is featured as a likely takeover target itself--is keeping the terms on the upfront and milestones involved close to the vest.

Despite the hush-hush stance on the numbers, the deal does help clarify Shire's growth strategy at a time of major top-level changes. Ornskov is poised to take over the CEO's job from Angus Russell, a move that was quickly followed by the news that Shire HGT chief Sylvie Gregoire is leaving the company at the end of this month. Bloomberg recently managed to stir considerable interest--and confusion--with the garbled translation of some impromptu remarks Ornskov recently made to analysts in London about some takeover talks the company was engaged in. Depending on who was listening, Ornskov either highlighted a transformational deal in the works or specifically ruled it out, while highlighting two or three advanced deal talks.

The Premacure buyout would certainly fit neatly into Shire's strategy of growing the pipelines at its various divisions with strategic acquisitions. But there's nothing transformational about this one. Shire has been rapidly expanding its work in Massachusetts on rare diseases. And that process will evidently continue as the company looks for a successor to Gregoire.   

Uppsala, Sweden-based Premacure has been focused on its mid-stage program for a protein replacement therapy that promises to prevent a blinding disorder called retinopathy of prematurity.

"This investigational protein has the potential to provide a first-in-class treatment that may minimize the development and impact of complications arising from ROP," Ornskov said in a statement. "We will build on the work that Premacure has done and will apply Shire's proven ability in developing protein replacement therapies for rare disorders to bring this much needed therapy to the market."

- here's the press release

Special Report: Flemming Ornskov - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013

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