LONDON (Alliance News) - AbbVie Inc Wednesday retracted any statements that suggested it had the support of Shire shareholders in its bid to acquire the UK-listed company for GBP30.1 billion, after potentially over-stepping the mark when it comes to UK takeover rules.
In a statement, AbbVie said it wished to clarify some press and newswire reports about its latest takeover bid for pharmaceuticals rival Shire. It said it had not received any written commitments of support from Shire's shareholders and "accordingly retracts the statements".
"It acknowledges that in the absence of written statements of support from shareholders it is not in a position to make any statement of shareholder support which accords with the provisions of Rule 19.3.," it said, referring to one of the UK takeover process rules.
AbbVie raised its proposed takeover offer for Shire by 11% on Tuesday to GBP51.15 a Shire share, from GBP46.26 a share previously. The new proposal is for GBP22.44 in cash and 0.8568 ordinary shares in the new company for each Shire share.
In its statement Tuesday, the US company said that it had met with, or spoken to, a large number of Shire shareholders who "collectively represent a majority of Shire's outstanding shares." It said these were primarily longer-term shareholders, including its largest shareholders.
However, it didn't say whether those shareholders had indicated their support for any of the AbbVie approaches for Shire. AbbVie Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Gonzalez only urged Shire shareholders to "strongly encourage the Shire board to engage in constructive dialogue with AbbVie".
AbbVie's sweetened proposed offer for Shire was its fourth approach. It has so far been rebuffed by the Irish company. However, on Tuesday Shire said its board would meet to consider the fourth proposal and make a further announcement in "due course". It urged its shareholders to take no action for the time being.
AbbVie is now running to a tight deadline. Under UK takeover rules, once a takeover approach becomes public a bidding company only has a short amount of time to make a formal takeover bid for the target or it has to walk away for at least six months. AbbVie currently has until July 18 to make its formal bid or walk away.