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Shire CEO expects to keep Baxalta research center

The top executive at drug maker Shire PLC said he expects to keep the newly opened Baxalta research center in Cambridge after Shire completes its $32 billion buyout of Baxalta.

A final decision won’t be made until this summer, after the acquisition is approved by regulators and shareholders of both companies, Shire chief executive Flemming Ornskov said in an interview Thursday. But he said an integration team consisting of representatives from both companies has already begun meeting at the Cambridge site and at Shire’s US headquarters in Lexington.

“It’s a very attractive location, and it’s a cornerstone of [Baxalta’s] activity in research and development,” Flemming said of the Kendall Square site. “So I don’t see any change to that.”


Shire, which is based in Ireland, has more than 2,300 employees and 1.1 million square feet of office and lab space in Lexington, where Ornskov himself is based.

Baxalta, formerly the biopharma arm of Baxter, is based outside Chicago but last year opened the Cambridge research center that employs more than 500 people working on cancer and immune therapies and business development functions. It also collaborates with another Cambridge biotech, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc., on cancer drug development.

Worldwide, Baxalta has about 16,000 employees.

When the acquisition takes effect, “we won’t differentiate between Baxalta and Shire,” said Ornskov. “It will be one team.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.