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Shire says deal for Baxalta still on

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Shire Plc says its acquisition of Baxalta is on track to be completed this summer despite new U.S. rules designed to discourage mergers between U.S. and foreign companies aimed at reducing corporate taxes.

“The combination of Shire and Baxalta is based on a strong strategic rationale to create the leading global biotechnology company focused on rare diseases,” Shire said in a news release Wednesday.

“The company currently expects to complete its proposed combination by mid-2016 as previously announced.”

Shire and Baxalta announced a $32 billion cash-and-stock deal in January. Baxalta shareholders will wind up owning about 34 percent of the combined company.

Baxalta was spun off from Baxter International in July 2015. Baxalta, based in Bannockburn, makes biopharmaceuticals to treat rare diseases in the areas of hematology, immunology and oncology. The company employs 16,000 people.

Shire is based in Dublin, Ireland, and once was a merger partner with AbbVie until political pressure scuttled the deal. North Chicago-based AbbVie paid a $1.6 billion breakup fee to get out of the deal, which was valued at $55 billion.

Pfizer, the biggest U.S.-based drugmaker, and rival Alleergan called off their record $160 billion merger early Wednesday. The merger would have moved Pfizer’s address — but not its operations or headquarters — to Ireland, where it would pay far less in corporate taxes.

Pfizer cited new Treasury Department regulations to make such “tax inversions” less lucrative for the decision to scrap the deal.

Contributing: Associated Press