March 29, 2018 / 2:54 AM / a year ago

Nikkei rises as weak yen lifts sentiment; Takeda stumbles

TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Thursday morning as a weaker yen lifted risk sentiment, but Takeda Pharmaceutical stumbled after it said it was considering a bid for London-listed Shire that could top $40 billion.

The Nikkei gained 0.4 percent to 21,123.86. Food stocks gained ground, although tech shares came under pressure as they tracked a similar weakness on Wall Street.

All three major U.S. indexes ended lower after a rocky session on Wednesday as gains in consumer staples and healthcare were offset by a sharp drop in Amazon shares and a continuing slide in technology stocks.

On the Nikkei, alcohol beverage maker Asahi Group Holdings rose 2.7 percent and condiment maker Ajinomoto added 1.9 percent, while index-heavy stocks such as Fast Retailing advanced 2.5 percent.

A weaker yen against the dollar amid perceived progress on North Korea issues also underpinned investor sentiment.

However, Takeda fell more than 6 percent after it said it was at a "preliminary and exploratory stage" of considering a bid for Shire, adding it had not approached Shire's board.

Shire, which sells treatments for rare diseases and attention deficit disorder, said it noted Takeda's statement, and confirmed it had not received an approach.

"Investors are worried that the deal would cause a big debt burden on Takeda, whose market capitalization is smaller than Shire," said a market strategist in Tokyo.

"It's a bold endeavour ... it's like a snake trying to swallow its bigger rival and that image is scaring investors. That's not common in Japan."

Tech shares were pressured, with semiconductor equipment makers Tokyo Electron falling 2.3 percent and Advamtest Corp shedding 1.6 percent.

The broader Topix advanced 0.1 percent to 1,701.73. (Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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