Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shire reverses decision to move headquarters

by Natalie Kostelni-Staff Writer, Philadelphia Business Journal

In a dramatic about face, Shire Pharmaceuticals has decided not to build a new U.S. corporate headquarters at the Atwater Corporate Center in Malvern, Pa., and will stay in its current office facilities in the Chesterbrook Corporate Center in Wayne, Pa.
“We’re no longer moving forward with that and we’re remaining in Chesterbrook,” said Gwen Fisher, spokeswoman at Shire.
The decision came in light of the Shire bringing in Dr. Flemming Ornskov, its new chief executive officer, and his asking his senior employees to analyze its global footprint and its real estate presence based on the pharmaceutical company’s needs. The conclusion was simple:
“We feel fine where we are,” Fisher said.
Those outside of the company who were working on everything from the design and engineering of the new corporate campus received the news yesterday when they were told to cease working on the project. They were stunned. However, even though the company had signed a lease on space that was to be constructed at Atwater, there was a provision that allowed it to back out of the deal without penalty. That deadline was today.
People familiar with the matter were also told that the company was considering whether to remain in the Philadelphia area and possibly relocate elsewhere such as to Massachusetts but that was based on speculation about Shire’s future. The company has been rumored on and off over the years to be a takeover target, which is a reflection of an industry-wide consolidation trend. Earlier this month, Shire’s new CEO outlined his strategy for the company’s growth as an independent entity. That strategy involves focusing on five core product categories.
Shire (NASDAQ: SHPGY) announced last October that it would relocate to Atwater, bringing to an end a process that started in 2011 when the company launched an evaluation of its space options. The company considered possibly moving its North American headquarters to New Jersey or Delaware but decided to stay in the Philadelphia region. Shire’s regional operations have grown from a few hundred employees in 2004 to nearly 1,500 people.
Its original decision to move out of Chesterbrook, where it occupies 425,000 square feet, meant a gaping hole would have been left in that corporate center when it would have moved by the end of 2015. That apparently is no longer the case.

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