Sector News

Alexion concedes to activists, joins forces on director search

January 3, 2018
Life sciences

Alexion and activist investor Elliott Management are putting their differences aside.

The two parties have agreed to “work collaboratively” to find a new member for Alexion’s board, they said late Tuesday. Alexion had announced back in November that it was looking to fill an open seat.

The agreement follows a December report that Elliott had built up a stake in the rare-disease drugmaker and was looking for a bigger effort from the company’s leaders to boost share prices. The fund also wanted to see more biotech experience on Alexion’s slate of directors, according to The New York Times—particularly now that Ludwig Hantson, the former helmsman of Baxalta, had filled key leadership positions with his pharma peers.

“This agreement is in line with our ongoing efforts to maintain active and constructive dialogue with all of our shareholders and to identify a new board member with a proven track record of building value,” Chairman David Brennan said in a statement.

At least one analyst likely wasn’t surprised to see activists jump into the mix at Alexion, which spent 2017 working to find its footing after key leaders departed amid a late-2016 sales-fraud investigation. Leerink Partners’ Geoffrey Porges has called the biotech “one of the rare, once or twice per decade, activist investment situations in the biopharmaceutical industry.”

Elliott, though, seems to like what it’s seen over the last couple of months from Hantson, whose moves have included hundreds of layoffs and a headquarters relocation. “We are encouraged by actions taken under Ludwig’s leadership to improve financial performance and reset Alexion’s strategy,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

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