Enzon, under Pressure from Carl Icahn, Seeks Buyer
It looks like investor Carl Icahn may be having his way with Enzon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENZN). The Piscataway, NJ, company announced today that it is seeking a buyer for some or all of the company, 19 days after Icahn signaled he wanted to talk to the biotech about its operations.
Icahn, whose investment firm owns 13.3 percent of Enzon’s shares, said in an SEC filing on Nov. 28 that he had informed the company he wanted to discuss its operations, direction and plans to manage expenses. Enzon said in its press release this morning that it is suspending the development of its androgen receptor clinical program in order to conserve capital and maximize shareholder value. The company currently has a drug for breast and colorectal cancer in Phase II clinical trials.
Enzon chairman Alex Denner, who is also a senior managing partner at New York-based Icahn Enterprises, said in the press release that, “in addition to a strong balance sheet and royalty revenues, Enzon’s drug candidates and technologies offer the potential for a variety of transaction.” By midday Enzon’s share price had risen 5.25 percent to $4.81.
Icahn has been pressuring Enzon to streamline operations ever since he upped his holdings in the company in 2008. In 2010 CEO Jeffrey Buchalter resigned and was replaced by an executive committee of the board, headed by Denner. In September 2011 Enzon announced it would cut its workforce almost in half by this July, to 47 people.
The board of directors has hired Lazard as financial advisor for the sale.