DealZone

Win-win for Carl Icahn

As Wednesdays go, this must be one of the best in a while for activist investor Carl Icahn. He’s getting two board posts at Genzyme, for which he is dropping his proxy battle, and he has charmed the Canadians into approving his tender offer for Lions Gate Entertainment, for which all he had to do was promise to keep the Canadian film division in Canadian hands if he takes control of the Los Angeles studio.

All this is a welcome turn of events for the high profile investor who has suffered through his share of misses in recent years, including his disappointing investments in Blockbuster and, most famously, Yahoo.

Icahn had nominated himself and three allies to Genzyme’s board after a manufacturing crisis lead to shortages of two of the company’s life-saving drugs. Genzyme has agreed to appoint two Icahn representatives — Dr. Steven Burakoff and Dr. Eric Ende — and in return Icahn will withdraw his slate and vote his shares in favor of the company’s nominees. “I think overall this is a positive,” said Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer at First Empire Asset Management, which owns Genzyme’s shares and oversees nearly $4 billion in assets. “It avoids a continuing confrontation with Icahn and provides more oversight over the direction the company takes.”

On the movie front, Icahn said last week he would launch a proxy battle for control of the board of Lions Gate, after the studio posted a narrower-than-expected, but second consecutive quarterly loss. Icahn said he will put up his own slate of director nominees prior to the company’s annual meeting. Lions Gate has not yet announced a date for the meeting. It may want to stay away from Wednesday when it gets around to choosing one.

Good medicine for Morgan Stanley

USA/Morgan Stanley‘s jump from 10th to first in our M&A league table should put them on cloud nine. The first quarter was busy with drug deals, and Morgan Stanley was in on the biggies: advising Wyeth on its $64.5 billion acquisition by Pfizer, and Schering Plough on its $46 billion takeover by Merck. And with the ink still to arrive on the paper of both deals, more good stuff could be on the horizon. The trick for Morgan Stanley, and anyone wanting to take down the king of the hill, is to spot and exploit the trend.******If drug deals remain du jour — and many expect the sector to stay hot, despite all the swallowing going on — the trend will certainly be toward Biotech. The markets for biologics and pipeline-filling cancer treatments have been strong in the face of expected government action to lower doctor and drug bills.******The heightened merger activity in Big Pharma has switched the tables a bit in the sector. After Roche’s nearly $47 billion acquisition of Genentech, analysts became increasingly convinced that the remaining big biotechs like Celgene, Gilead, Genzyme, Biogen Idec and Amgen could emerge as buyers, given that traditional Big Pharma is either digesting deals or just not so big anymore.******Christopher Kaufman; DealZone Editor******Deals of the Day:******* Drug maker Lupin Ltd said it has acquired a 51 percent stake in Multicare Pharmaceuticals Philippines Inc, marking the Indian firm’s foray into the $2.5 billion Philippines pharmaceuticals market.******* Britain-based dairy products maker Dairy Crest said it had sold its 49 percent stake in Yoplait Dairy Crest (YDC) to the Yoplait Group for 63.5 million pounds ($92.66 million) and that it would use the cash to reduce debts.******* Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine said its North American unit, VAE Nortrak had acquired U.S-based Leading Enterprises Inc, a supplier of speciality components for railway tracks, as part of a plan by the company to expand its railway division.******(PHOTO: A sign is pictured on Wall St. near the New York Stock Exchange in New York November 25, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson )