Biotech and Pharma

Ariad CEO to retire in settlement with Sarissa

Ariad Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Officer Harvey Berger will retire this year in a settlement with activist hedge fund Sarissa Capital, capping months of agitation against the cancer drug maker.

As part of the settlement, Sarissa will add a member to the drugmaker's board and lead the search committee for Berger's replacement, the hedge fund said in a filing Wednesday.

Ariad added Sarissa founder Alex Denner, who previously led health-care investments for Carl Icahn, to its board last year. Sarissa had nominated two directors to Ariad's board in February, when it said it sought to replace Berger. One of Sarissa's nominees, Anna Protopapas, will join Ariad's board as part of the settlement.

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Ariad's stock has been climbing back from a low at the end of 2013, when its only approved product, the cancer drug Iclusig, was pulled from the market over safety concerns. Iclusig returned to market two months later, with tighter restrictions on its use. The stock is up 41 percent this year. Its stock price was up by more than 4 percent in premarket trading Wednesday. (Click here for the latest price.)

Berger founded Ariad and has led the company since 1991. As part of the settlement with Sarissa, Berger will remain CEO until a replacement is found, no later than the end of 2015.

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