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Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson steps into Valeant mess as board member

June 20, 2017
Life sciences

Still burdened by its debt and reeling from past missteps, Valeant Pharmaceuticals has added famed hedge fund manager John Paulson to its board. He said he supports the board, but at least one analyst wonders about that.

The move comes just after another billionaire, Bill Ackman, decided to give up on the troubled drugmaker after a painful loss.

Paulson, an investor who made billions by betting against the housing market in 2007, joined Valeant last Wednesday as a director, according to a company statement. His firm, Paulson & Co., is the largest Valeant shareholder, Reuters reported.

Paulson joins a drugmaker that has seen no shortage of conflict over the last two years as a series of investigations and executive changes, plus mounting debt, have damaged its ability to conduct business. However, investors welcomed his arrival and bid up Valeant’s shares by about 6% on Monday morning. In a statement, Paulson said he’s “fully supportive of the strategy and leadership team at Valeant.”

For his part, Wells Fargo analyst David Maris sees it another way. In a Monday note, Maris wrote that he “cannot help but think that Paulson joining the board is a signal of dissatisfaction of some sort.”

Whatever the case behind the scenes, Paulson will have his hands full helping Valeant work through its current problems. The drug company has seen its share price tumble by 95% from 2015 as a number of controversies crushed investor confidence.

Paulson joins Valeant’s board just after another hedge funder, Bill Ackman, decided to call it quits on his painful Valeant investment. Ackman sold his shares back in March, according to CNBC, losing billions in the exit. He didn’t immediately give up his board position but agreed to not seek re-election.

Facing nearly $30 billion in debt, Valeant has taken to selling off assets for cash as one remedy to its issues. It recently unloaded iNova Pharmaceuticals for $930 million, a sale that followed several others. Reports earlier this month said the company was looking to sell Bausch & Lomb for up to $2 billion.

Despite its troubles, Valeant did raise its 2017 guidance by $50 million when it reported first-quarter results.

By Eric Sagonowsky

Source: Fierce Pharma

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