Former Shire chief working with Apax 'to create new drug company'

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The Independent Online

Rolf Stahel, the former chief executive of Shire Pharmaceuticals, is working with the private equity group Apax Partners as he searches for a deal on which to build a new drug company.

The 59-year-old, who was ousted last year from the company he built into a FTSE 100 stalwart, is believed to be examining a portfolio of assets that Apax is buying from Elan, the Irish pharmaceuticals group. Apax is paying $120m for Elan's European sales and marketing infrastructure, which comes with a portfolio of on-sale drugs. The deal is expected to complete within the next few months.

Mr Stahel refused to comment on an association with Apax, but said he had set himself the target of creating a new drug group through acquisition within six years. He was working with venture capital to see if there were "any fruit loose on any of their trees", he said. "Shire took 15 years to build and I don't have 15 years. Given my age I hope to find a vehicle that gives me a kick start."

Mr Stahel has also set up a shell company, Chesyl Pharmaceuticals, which could become a vehicle for acquisitions, and is believed to be ready to take on a small number of non-executive posts.

The length of Mr Stahel's absence from the industry has taken observers by surprise. It is believed that his insistence on taking a substantial portion of the equity in any new venture has scuppered some plans, including his appointment as chief executive at the vaccines group Acambis.