THE board of Basingstoke-based Shire plc agreed to merge with American drugs company AbbVie Inc.

The deal values Shire at around £32 billion, with the board recommending the most recent bid to its investors, of £53.20 per share.

Commenting on the merger, Richard Gonzalez, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of AbbVie said: "By combining AbbVie and Shire, we’re creating a unique, diversified biopharmaceutical company.

“The combined company would benefit from a best-in-class product development platform, a stronger pipeline and more enhanced R&D capabilities.”