The USA’s NPS Pharmaceuticals has broken its silence on repeated rumours of a takeover bid from Shire, saying it has not had any contact with the Ireland-based company.

The last few days have seen a lot of speculation, started by the Financial Times that Shire is planning to make an offer in the region of $4 billion for NPS. Then The Times took up the reins and reported that the Dublin-headquartered group had secured a $5 billion credit facility to finance a takeover offer.

In theory, these rumours based on undisclosed sources made a fair bit of sense given that NPS specialises in rare diseases and markets Gattex/Revestive (teduglutide) for short bowel syndrome. It is also waiting to hear from the US Food and Administration about Natpara (recombinant human parathyroid hormone) for the treatment of hypoparathyroidism filed with the agency in October.

NPS shares have shot up since the rumours began but the company has now said that “in light of the erroneous press reports”  it has decided to comment on media speculation and market rumours. It confirms that “to date NPS has not had any communication with Shire or any representative of Shire concerning the acquisition of NPS”.

That may be the end of that, although rumour-mongers may wish to attach importance to the “to date” part. Shire has itself been long-mentioned as a takeover target, not least for AstraZeneca which has for the moment escaped the clutches of Pfizer.