Shionogi has become the latest Japanese drugmaker to dive onto the acquisition merry-ground and is buying the USA’s Sciele Pharma in a deal valued at around $1.4 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sciele shareholders will get $31 per share, which represents a 60.9% premium on its closing price last Friday. That values the firm at around $1.1 billion and Shionogi noted that it will also pay $325 million for a convertible bond.

Sciele will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shionogi and will continue operations in Atlanta, as a standalone business unit. The Osaka-based group added that the deal “significantly increasing Shionogi's commercial presence and product pipeline in the USA” and the transaction will not result in any reduction of Sciele employees.

Explaining the rationale behind the deal, Isao Teshirogi, Shionogi’s president, said Sciele “has a well-established sales and marketing team with a proven track record in the USA” and has expertise in clinical, regulatory and business development. The acquisition will give us a strong platform “in the USA to launch products that are currently in the Shionogi and Sciele pipelines”, he said, adding that “our therapeutic areas complement each other and broaden our product portfolio and R&D pipeline”.

Around 80% of the Sciele’s 920 staff work in sales and its lead product is the high blood pressure drug Sular (nisoldipine). For the second quarter, it posted a 17% rise in revenues to $111.3 million and specialises in cardiovascular, diabetes, women's health and paediatrics.

Shionogi, arguably best-known for developing the cholesterol-lowering blockbuster Crestor (rosuvastatin) licensed to AstraZeneca, has joined the group of Japanese drugmakers who are heading abroad to reduce their dependence on the flat domestic market. Daiichi Sankyo is in the process of buying India’s Ranbaxy for $4.5 billion, while Takeda splashed out $8.9 billion for Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Eisai completed the $3.9 billion purchase of MGI Pharma at the beginning of the year.