Shire Takeover "Could Save AbbVie $8 Billion Tax on Humira over Next 15 Years"

Pharmaceutical Executive

AbbVie’s recent $54 billion acquisition of Shire and subsequent relocation to Ireland will mean substantial tax savings for the US pharmaceutical giant, according to analysts at research and consulting firm GlobalData.

AbbVie’s recent $54 billion acquisition of Shire and subsequent relocation to Ireland will mean substantial tax savings for the US pharmaceutical giant, according to analysts at research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Analyst Aparna Krishnan says: “By shifting the legal headquarters of the newly-combined entity to Ireland, AbbVie could lower its annual tax expense by as much as 7%, which would have equated to increased earnings of more than $350 million in 2013.”

Even after accounting for the impact of the arrival of biosimilars, Krishnan explains, “a tax gain of this magnitude would translate into more than $5 billion in additional free cash flows from Humira alone over the next 15 years. Dampening the impact of biosimilars would see the tax savings on projected cash flows from Humira jump even further to around $8 billion.”

Shire, which relocated to Ireland from the UK back in 2008, has since seen a notable drop in its tax expenses, with a five-year average Effective Tax Rate (ETR) of 20.6% between 2008 and 2013, compared with 36.9% in 2008. By comparison, AbbVie’s ETR was 22.6% in 2013.

Joshua Owide, GlobalData’s Director of Healthcare Industry Dynamics, adds: “By acquiring Shire, AbbVie has taken a big step towards diversifying its portfolio and reducing its dependency on Humira and the risks associated with overreliance on one asset.”

But the  importance of Humira to AbbVie’s business cannot be understated, as the drug accounted for 56.7% of the company’s top-line sales in 2013. As Owide explains: “Humira could face competition from adalimumab biosimilars as early as December 2016 in the US and April 2018 in other markets. However, [Humira] will remain AbbVie’s leading franchise far into the future, with a net present value of $37.6 billion and a free cash flow of over $60 billion through 2029.”