Sector News

Saunders supporter Carl Icahn joins activist party at Allergan

June 8, 2018
Life sciences

Just a couple of days after rebel investors called for a C-suite shakeup at troubled Allergan, another activist is reportedly getting involved—and it’s a familiar one.

Notorious proxy brawler Carl Icahn has built up a small position in the drugmaker, Bloomberg reports. Right now, the size of the stake and the motivation behind it aren’t known, its sources said.

“Allergan welcomes all investments in our company,” a spokeswoman said.

Icahn and Allergan have history together, however, and Icahn and Allergan’s CEO and chairman, Brent Saunders, have even more. Way back in 2013, Icahn helped install Saunders at the top of Forest Labs before orchestrating a sale of that company to Actavis, which later became Allergan. In 2016, Icahn socked more money into the company, which by that point Saunders was helming.

“[W]e still have always maintained great respect for Brent,” Icahn said at the time, adding, “We have every confidence in Brent’s ability to enhance value for all Allergan shareholders.”

But over the next year, as Allergan shares sank amid forthcoming competition and its quashed Pfizer merger, Icahn cashed out.

His latest rumored investment follows on the heels of demands for change at the top—and after months of pressure from activists. According to an April report, Allergan investors, exasperated with management’s response to the company’s long-slumping shares, had begun recruiting activists to pile on the pressure. At that point, Icahn protégé Alex Denner and his Sarissa Capital had already nabbed a small stake in the Dublin pharma, and it wasn’t long before David Tepper and his Appaloosa Management and Palomino Fund got involved, too.

Since then, Allergan has made moves to placate shareholders, pledging to put its women’s health and infectious disease units on the block. But earlier this week, Tepper’s Appaloosa and Senator Investment Group deemed that effort “half-hearted,” instead calling on the drugmaker to split its CEO and chairman job—stripping Saunders of at least some of his power—bring in an outsider for the other position, “upgrade” management in key units and replace at least two board directors.

Over the last several months, competitive threats to key products Botox and Restasis have roiled shares, and Saunders and co. haven’t been able to fend off the threats. Before agreeing to consider asset sales, the company went for layoffs, which didn’t do the trick, and its controversial—and ultimately unsuccessful—attempts to protect its Restasis IP have been met with criticism, too.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

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