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Global Management Forum 2019

Takeda focuses on 'high priority' Asia after huge bet on Shire

Drugmaker taking break from acquisitions but wants partners, CEO Weber says

Takeda Pharmaceutical President and CEO Christophe Weber speaks to the Nikkei Asian Review on the sidelines of the Nikkei Global Management Forum on Oct. 29 in Tokyo. (Photo by Shihoko Nakaoka)

TOKYO -- Takeda Pharmaceutical has high hopes for China, India and Southeast Asia, as Japan's largest drugmaker looks to further extend its international reach, CEO Christophe Weber said in an interview on Tuesday.

"Asia is a high priority for us," Weber said on the sidelines of the Nikkei Global Management Forum. "With 3 billion people, health care demand is strong and countries like China and India are big potential markets."

In a speech at the event, he said Takeda is preparing to launch more than 10 new medicines in China over the next three years.

As for Southeast Asia, Weber said "it is only a matter of time before people start reaching out for health care."

"Food, housing and education are what people focus on. But health care comes right after," he said, adding that with many countries undergoing rapid economic growth, "people will soon look for good health care."

Takeda is revving up its global operations after completing its $60 billion acquisition of Irish peer Shire in January. The deal marked the biggest foreign takeover by a Japanese company, and Weber said it will help propel international expansion, including in Asia.

"Purchasing Shire is an opportunity for us to expand our portfolio," Weber stated. It has "brought scale and financial capability. It has made us more resilient."

Weber also touched on the challenges of expanding in Asia. "There are myriad health care systems across the region," he said. "We need to be flexible to try and fit local healthcare systems."

Though it has been less than a year since Takeda bought Shire, Weber seems pleased with the progress, saying, "Integration is on track." The CEO said he is "satisfied with the results of our second quarter earnings," which the company will announce on Thursday.

However, Weber said Takeda is unlikely to carry out another "M&A for the foreseeable future," mainly because the company wants to reduce its debt after the Shire acquisition strained its finances. Instead, Weber said, "we think there will be more partnerships to come because those are less capital intensive."

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