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Forest Labs Wins ISS Backing in Icahn Board Battle

Forest Laboratories said it won backing from proxy advisory firm ISS for all 10 of its board nominees in a proxy battle with billionaire investor Carl Icahn.

Carl Icahn
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Carl Icahn

Icahn, who said earlier Wednesday that he had increased his stake in the company to 9.2 percent, has been seeking to put four representatives on the drugmaker's board.

Icahn, however, "has not demonstrated a compelling case that change at the board level is needed," according the Institutional Shareholder Services report. Forest released excerpts of the report in a press statement.

"We find little evidence to support the dissidents' contention that the board has made major strategic missteps in planning for the upcoming patent cliffs," the report said, referring to the patent expirations of Forest's big-selling drugs Lexapro for depression and Namenda for Alzheimer's disease.

The ISS recommendation comes after another proxy advisory firm, Glass Lewis, said Tuesday that shareholders should back one of Icahn's nominees — Richard Mulligan, a Harvard Medical School genetics professor who sits on the boards of biotech companies Biogen Idec and Enzon Pharmaceuticals.

The Forest annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for Aug. 18.

Forest shares were off 2.8 percent at $33.79 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, similar to a drop for the broader market. Click here for real-time quotes for Forest Laboratories.