Shire's negotiations with Baxalta over a takeover have reached an advanced stage and a deal could be announced this week, according to media reports.
If the deal is consummated, it would start 2016 on much the same footing as 2015 and 2014, two years which heralded the return of large-scale M&A to the pharma industry.
Bloomberg says the companies are in the final stages of thrashing out a $32bn deal in cash and stock - excluding debt - that will value Baxalta at somewhere between $46.50 and $48.00 per share.
Ireland-domiciled Shire has been pursuing Baxter spin-out Baxalta since last summer, saying it wants to create a global biotech company focusing on rare diseases with annual sales of $20bn by 2020, although the latter publicly rejected the unsolicited $45.23 offer as undervaluing its business.
At the time, Baxalta said Shire's approach was a 'lowball valuation' and opportunistic - given that it had only just separated from former parent Baxter its share price had not settled down. It also said its haemophilia business was growing faster than predicted so warranted a much higher valuation than laid out in Shire's proposal.
Pro forma sales for Baxalta are expected to be around $5.9bn in 2015 - roughly 4% down on the prior year - but the company is forecasting 6-8% annual growth year between 2016 and 2020 thanks to the contribution of new drugs that will add around $2.5bn in revenues.
Shire's initial all-stock offer has reportedly been sweetened with a cash element in a bid to win over Baxalta's reluctant shareholders. It has previously said that a merged company would be able to launch up to 30 new drugs over five years.
Shire has been on the acquisition trail since a $55bn takeover by AbbVie was abandoned in 2014, agreeing a $65bn deal to buy Dyax in November 2015 - adding experimental hereditary angioedema (HAE) therapy DX-2930 - and a $5.2bn purchase of NPS Pharma which gave it control of Natpara (recombinant parathyroid hormone) for hypoparathyroidism.