London-listed drugmaker Shire has hired investment bank Citi as an adviser, expecting to receive takeover approaches following a wave of deals in the healthcare sector, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Much of the dealmaking has been fueled by U.S. companies seeking lower tax rates abroad. With its tax base in Ireland - where effective corporate tax rates are among the lowest in the world—and a mid-sized market value of around $35 billion, Shire could be a prime target, analysts and bankers believe.
"Something could happen this year," said one of the sources on condition of anonymity because the matter is private.
Shire, which specializes in treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a range of rare diseases, was not immediately available to comment. Citi declined to comment.
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Shire, which was founded in 1986 in Britain but conducts most of its business in the United States, has been domiciled in Ireland for tax purposes since 2008.
That approach did not lead to serious discussions between the two parties and there are currently no talks with Allergan, one source said.
Shire is a relative rarity in being a mid-sized drug-maker with no controlling shareholder, making it a perennial subject of takeover speculation.