Late in May, Matthew Emmens took the stage with Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to announce to a roomful of reporters that his company, Shire Pharmaceuticals Group was moving its US headquarters to Wayne, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. The debonair, silver-haired CEO worked the crowd with an easy smile, ticking off a long list of benefits Shire expected to gain-from the skilled workers to pizza and cheesesteaks. "For me," said Emmens, "it's coming home."
On a business level, though, Emmens is exploring new territory. Shire, in the past few years, has started to look more and more like a "big" pharma. Its revenues last year were just under $1.25 billion, driven mainly by the $475.5 million sales of Adderall XR (mixed combination, 4 amphetamine salts), a treatment for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But Em-mens isn't just bringing Shire across the pond-he wants to change its strategy. Instead of being a small "big" company, he plans to grow Shire big using a small-company strategy. But with the clock ticking on Adderall XR's patent, even Emmens admits, "We think we have the right strategy-but no one can see into the future."
In 1994, Shire hired a new CEO: Wellcome's Rolf Stahel. Finally, the company began to change course, growing from a tiny shop with 70 employees to a $1 billion global enterprise with 2,000 employees, listed on both the United Kingdom's esteemed FTSE 100 and the Nasdaq.
Stahel's favorite tool was acquisition. Shire executives are fond of noting that he completed six purchases in just six years using venture capital and a 1996 stock offering. The strategy grew revenues. But more than that, it gave Shire strategic assets: