Christophe Weber – Takeda’s Tenacious CEO
In 2014, after 20 successful years with GlaxoSmithKline,
Christophe Weber made a surprising move by taking the reins of the Japanese pharmaceutical
giant – Takeda. In doing so, Weber became the first non-Japanese to become
President and Chief Executive Officer of a major Japanese pharmaceutical
company. From the very beginning, Weber swore to cultivate a global identity
and wanted Takeda to be considered a world leader. Initially, he proceeded to
measure steps by selling assets such as Takeda’s respiratory drugs arm as well
as the Fujifilm Holding Company to AstraZeneca. He also made a major
acquisition to add to Takeda’s oncology franchise with the purchase of Ariad
for $ 4.66 billion.
Weber’s Most Daring Move Yet – Acquiring of Shire, A Biopharmaceuticals Company
But all this is nothing compared to his most daring move, the
acquisition of Shire for $ 62 billion.
Significant acquisitions of this type are partially justified, resulting in cost reductions as duplicates are eliminated. However, it can be argued that these major mergers are, at best, distracting and, at the worst – totally demoralizing. This especially holds true for an R&D organization. Weber recently addressed this problem when he appeared at the Forbes Healthcare Summit and discussed his expectations for the new Takeda.
Steps that led to this move
One of the first things that Weber did when he took power was to
divert Takeda’s focus on the therapeutic areas where he felt strong: GI, CNS,
and Oncology. Like its competitors, it has also decided to centralize most of
Takeda’s R&D in Boston and Cambridge – a new step in its globalization
projects. Weber is also proud of the fact that Takeda uses a lite model, in
that its internal discovery engine is small, but the company complements this
principle by granting aggressive licenses to the first programs. At the
recently concluded Forbes Summit, Weber said he had signed 180 such contracts
during his tenure. In this context, the acquisition of Shire makes a lot of
sense. First, it adds Shire’s expertise and capacity in rare diseases to its
research and development portfolio. Secondly, as Shire’s R&D activities are
also based in Boston and it does not foresee any disruption, owing to the fact
that most of the scientists are located in this region. Finally, Shire also
uses a model very similar to Takeda’s for drug discovery research. Thus,
culturally, businesses can be a narrower fit than one might have thought about,
at the outset.
Intensive R&D – reason behind the acquisition
Weber sees the addition of Shire’s research and development groupas a complementary acquisition, as Shire complements rather than duplicating Takeda’s ongoing efforts. He recently confirmed his remarks when he discussedthe planned budget for the new organization. Takeda will spend about $ 3.5billion on R&D in 2018, which is less than half of what Shire is expectedto spend. After the merger, he predicts that the R&D budget will be between$ 4 billion and $ 5 billion. Although the expenses incurred are less than thosethat would probably have resulted if the two companies had remained separate,Takeda’s anticipated research and development expenditures do not appear toindicate massive cuts in research and development.
Move approved by shareholders
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. has also receivedshareholder approval for its $ 62 billion bid for UK-based Shire PLC, pavingthe way for the biggest overseas acquisition ever by a Japanese company. Theshareholders’ vote confirmed Weber’s mission to expand into more lucrativemarkets such as the United States and Europe while undermining more than 100shareholders who spent months lobbying against the acquisition. Takeda said atleast 88 percent of the vote was in favor of the agreement, more thantwo-thirds needed to pass it. A spokeswoman said a final count would bereleased soon. Takeda’s contract with Shire is the largest overseas acquisitionby a Japanese company.