Japanese drugs giant Takeda said Thursday it had made a $60-billion takeover bid for Irish peer Shire but its offer was rejected.
"Takeda notes recent press speculation regarding Shire plc and confirms that on April 12 it made a revised proposal to the board of Shire to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Shire," the Japanese firm said in a statement.
"Takeda was subsequently notified that the board of Shire had rejected its proposal. Discussions between the parties regarding a potential offer are ongoing."
Takeda's latest cash-and-shares offer was pitched at the equivalent of £46.50 per share, valuing Shire at £42 billion.
Shire said in a separate statement that it had rejected a total of three proposals from Takeda, including the latest approach that was confirmed on Thursday.
The pharmaceuticals group, based in Ireland but listed in London, added that its advisers have entered a dialogue with Takeda to discuss "whether a further, more attractive, proposal may be forthcoming".
Shire shares had soared by almost eight percent on the London Stock Exchange when rumours of the deal emerged earlier Thursday.
In mid-afternoon deals they pared gains to stand at £38.44, up 2.4 percent from Wednesday's closing level.
The news comes after Shire announced on Monday the sale of its oncology division to French peer Servier for $2.4 billion as it unloads non-core assets.
Shire added Thursday that Takeda had first approached it on March 29 with an initial offer, which was subsequently revised twice earlier this month.
A takeover would meanwhile strengthen Takeda's global position in drugs to fight cancer and combat gastrointestinal and nervous-system diseases.
Thursday's news comes amid a flurry of takeover and acquisition activity in the pharmaceutical industry, at a time when traditional players are seeing profits eroded by competition from generic medicine.
Japanese drugmakers in particular are facing pressure in the home market as the government tries to cut prices of many branded medicines and put greater focus on cheaper generics to rein in health spending as the population ages rapidly.
Takeda, led by Frenchman Christophe Weber, has been actively looking overseas for acquisitions.
In 2011 it took over Swiss rival Nycomed for 9.6 billion euros (then $13.6 billion).
However, some analysts are concerned that a takeover bid of this magnitude could put too much pressure on Takeda's own finances.