Icahn Wants to Fix Amylin First, Not Sell on the Cheap, Alex Denner Says

5/19/09Follow @xconomy

Carl Icahn didn’t become a billionaire by buying stocks high, and selling them low. So he isn’t looking to quickly flip San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN) if he and other dissident shareholders gain control of a few board seats.

“Our plan is not to sell the company,” said Alex Denner, a portfolio manager for Icahn, and one of the nominees standing for election to Amylin’s board on May 27. He said Amylin was “incorrect” when it accused Icahn and Eastbourne earlier this month of pushing for a premature sale. “We have to bring discipline and accountability to the board,” Denner said. “Shareholders have to be put first, and we need a clear plan to commercialize (exenatide once-weekly).”

Denner added that “it’s not prudent” to try to sell Amylin because the stock is too low now. It closed yesterday at $11.07 a share. The company has lost two-thirds of its value from where it was a year ago, trading at $31.95.

Icahn, like any biotech investor, has had his winners and losers. The big winner he likes to point to is ImClone Systems, which he took control of on Oct. 25, 2006. Icahn accumulated his position in ImClone earlier that year when the company was worth about $2.4 billion. Over the next two years, ImClone hired a new chief executive with experience at Johnson & Johnson, built up its biotech drug manufacturing capability, and advanced new drugs in its pipeline behind its one big hit, cetuximab (Erbitux) for colorectal cancer. By July 2008, ImClone’s longtime partner, Bristol-Myers Squibb—which once had a rancorous relationship with the company—offered to buy ImClone for $60 a share. Icahn held out for more, and got it. ImClone agreed to be sold to Eli Lilly for $70 a share, or $6.5 billion, in October 2008.

Amylin challenged Icahn’s role in the ImClone success … Next Page »

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