Dublin, Ireland-based Shire is selling its oncology unit to France’s Servier in a deal worth $2.4 billion.

Shire’s oncology business includes in-market products Oncaspar (pegaspargase), a component of multi-agent treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and ex-US rights to Onivyde (irinotecan pegylated liposomal formulation), which is part of a treatment regimen for metastatic pancreatic cancer post gemcitabine-based therapy.

The portfolio also includes Calaspargase Pegol (Cal-PEG), which is under US review for the treatment of ALL and early stage immuno-oncology pipeline collaborations, the firm noted.

Shire’s chief executive Flemming Ornskov called the deal a “key milestone” for the firm, which clearly demonstrates the value embedded in its portfolio.

“While the oncology business has delivered high growth and profitability, we have concluded that it is not core to Shire’s longer-term strategy,” he added, and also noted that the company will continue to evaluate its portfolio “for opportunities to unlock further value and sharpen our focus on rare disease leadership with selective disposals of non-strategic assets.”

Ornskov also noted the Board will consider returning the proceeds of the sale to shareholders through a shareholder-approved share buyback, after the current offer period regarding Takeda’s possible offer for Shire comes to an end.

Servier said the acquisition will help it achieve its vision of becoming a “global key player” in oncology.

“This acquisition allows us to establish a direct commercial presence in the United States, the world's leading pharmaceuticals market, and to strengthen our portfolio of marketed products in the territories where Servier is already present. Our goal is to bring these treatments to greater numbers of cancer patients around the world,” commented Servier group president Olivier Laureau.

Takeda said earlier this year that it might make an offer for Shire to beef up its core therapeutic areas. A decision on whether the firm will make a bid or not is required by April 25 as per UK regulation.