Carl Icahn has landed a one-two punch on Biogen Idec. Today, the Cambridge, MA-based biotech confirmed what the activist investor had proclaimed last week—that two members of Icahn’s board slate have been elected to Biogen’s board of directors. This afternoon, the company acknowledged that Richard Mulligan, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Gene Therapy Initiative, had won election to its board. He will be joining fellow Icahn slate member Alex Denner, whose election was confirmed last week by the biotech.
As Xconomy reported in an exclusive interview with Denner and Mulligan last Thursday, Denner appeared to be the runaway winner in last week’s board election, where four director seats were up for grabs on the company’s 13-member board. We cited an Icahn vote-tracking tally that showed Mulligan in third place. But Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB) only confirmed that Denner and two of its own candidates, Robert Pangia and William Young, had won election. Last week, Biogen said the race for the remaining place was still too close to call.
“We welcome Alexander Denner and Richard Mulligan to the Board and look forward to working with them to build on Biogen Idec’s strong track record of delivering value,” said Bruce R. Ross, Biogen Idec’s chairman, in a statement.
With a two-person toehold on Biogen’s 13-person board, Icahn plans to press an agenda for change at the company. As noted in our story last week, Denner and Mulligan told me that they hoped to focus on five areas at Biogen: shoring up relationships with partners, improving cost structure, strengthening and shoring up the product pipeline, improving strategic direction and focus, and settling litigation issues.
“Our objective is not to put the company up for sale,” Denner told me last week. “It’s to improve shareholder value, improve the pipeline, reinvigorate the culture and research, implement smarter spending, and improve the relationships between Biogen, Genentech-Roche, and Elan-and potentially to renegotiate a deal with Elan that’s better for the shareholders of both companies.”