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TOKYO (Reuters) - Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd (4502.T) has sounded out creditors for loans, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, as it moves closer to making a bid for London-listed rare disease specialist Shire (SHP.L) that could top $40 billion.

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FILE PHOTO: Takeda Pharmaceutical's signboard is seen on its headquarters building in Tokyo, Japan January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

Takeda, Japan’s largest drugmaker by sales, has sounded out creditors including its main bank Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, two sources said, declining to be identified as the matter was confidential.

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FILE PHOTO: Vitamins made by Shire are displayed at a chemist's in northwest London, Britain, July 11, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

Kyodo News reported earlier that Takeda, Japan’s top drugmaker, was looking for loans of several trillion yen (tens of billions of dollars) in total from multiple banks.

At around $40 billion, a successful bid would be the largest ever overseas acquisition by a Japanese company and would propel Takeda, helmed by Frenchman Christophe Weber, into the top ranks of global drug makers.

Takeda said last month it was “at a preliminary and exploratory stage” of considering a bid. Under UK takeover rules, it has until April 25 to decide whether to make a bid.

Representatives for Takeda, Shire and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, the core banking unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc (8316.T), were not immediately available for comment.

Takeda shares were down 0.8 percent in Tokyo trading. The company’s shares have fallen more than 9 percent since it was first reported they were considering bidding.

Reporting by Sam Nussey and Taro Fuse; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Edwina Gibbs

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