Icahn on their minds

June 3, 2009

A deal that just a couple of days ago was thought to have at least a 50-50 chance of being pulled off between Irish drugmaker Elan and Bristol-Myers Squibb turned out to be dead on the table after our drugs reporter Rans Pierson reported that talks between the two last month never got as far as price.

Elan markets multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri with Biogen Idec, which is holding a shareholder meeting today. While the soured prospects for that deal may be on investors’ minds, the issue will only come up briefly if at all, as the company has a much bigger ownership issue to deal with in the form of activist investor of Carl Icahn.

In his second proxy fight for board representation at Biogen, Icahn wants Biogen’s board to consider splitting the biotechnology company into one firm focused on neurology and another focused on cancer. Icahn also wants Biogen to examine its cost structure and improve its relationships with its partners.

Last year, Icahn lost a proxy fight against Biogen. He had accused the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech of sabotaging its own announced attempt to find a buyer.

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