Shire considers cash handback

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The Independent Online

Shire pharmaceuticals held out the prospect yesterday of handing back some of its £700m cash pile to shareholders, promising to review whether it needed the full sum to fill a gap in its pipeline of new drugs.

The FTSE 100 drug company, whose fortune is built on sales of Adderall, a blockbuster drug for hyperactive children, also said its annual results will beat forecasts, sending its shares up 10 per cent.

Shire plans to buy in new drugs or whole companies to ensure it can keep growing when Adderall faces copycat competitors in 2006. Matt Emmens, its chief executive, said the first acquisitions would come before the end of the year, after which there would be a review of the right "balance" between cash reserves and returns to shareholders.

"Right now we are holding cash to give us flexibility but at some point we will reach a steady state," Mr Emmens said.