Ornskov also noted the Board will consider returning the proceeds of the sale to shareholders through a shareholder-approved share buyback, after the current offer period regarding Takeda's possible offer for Shire comes to an end.
The agreement comes as Takeda's chief executive Christophe Weber is reported to be in the USA canvassing investor support for a potential bid for Shire, and will no doubt complicate attempts to put a fair value on the business with just a few days to go before the Japanese company must propose an offer or press pause for six months as required under European Union takeover laws. A decision on whether the firm will make a bid or not is required by April 25 as per United Kingdom regulation.
Takeda, which was founded in 1781 and employs 30,000 people, has a strong presence in emerging markets and operates in more than 70 countries. The process identified multiple potential strategic buyers across the U.S., Europe and Japan, Shire said. Cancer isn't one of the Shire's major units, with $262 million in 2017 sales, or about 1.8 percent of the company's total.
Shire has a track record of acquisitions, but its biggest ever deal - the $32 billion purchase of Baxalta in 2016 - was widely criticised by shareholders and has left it struggling to handle debt and integrate its various businesses.
When stripped of legacy Baxalta sales, revenues rose only 11% to 1.8 billion U.S. dollars (£1.39 billion). "We thoroughly look forward to welcoming Shire's oncology teams who will join Servier after the closing".
"While the Oncology business has delivered high growth and profitability, we have concluded that it is not core to Shire's longer-term strategy", the pharmco's chief executive Flemming Ornskov commented in the statement, adding that the company would "continue to evaluate our portfolio for opportunities to unlock further value and sharpen our focus on rare disease leadership with selective disposals of non-strategic assets".