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Carl Icahn Takes On Biogen Idec ... Again

Carl Icahn
Shiho Fukada
Carl Icahn

Billionaire activist investor (It seems it's become almost de rigueur to put those three words before his name) Carl Icahn is apparently so busy waging a proxy fight against biotechs Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Biogen Idec that he hasn't posted a new blog entry in nearly a month.

I guess he's been spending a lot of his time penning proxy materials for AMLN and now BIIB. I mean, check out his57-page tome for his latest attempt at forcing change at BIIB. He has tried and failed before to have his way with Biogen Idec.

But that isn't stopping him from giving it another go. Now, Icahn appears to be emboldened by his recent success with ImClone Systems, which he pushed into a sale to Eli Lilly for six-and-a-half billion bucks. Eleven pages of Icahn's BIIB proxy materials are devoted to what he and his people claim they did for ImClone.

"Our (board) nominees helped deliver results at ImClone," the document says. And it goes on. "ImClone shares dramatically outperformed during new executive committee tenure. New executive committee enhanced value at ImClone. Recharged ImClone partner relations and optimized cost structure."

There he's referring to what was, by nearly all accounts, ImClone's fractured relationship with Bristol-Myers Squibb . Wait, he's not finished. "Rebuilt pipeline, changed culture and settled litigation." Heck, why leave out "reinvented the wheel?" I'm kidding, Carl.

Anyway, Icahn concludes, "We believe ImClone and Biogen Idec situations analogous." Among his several proposals is a request for the board to look at splitting BIIB into two units: one focused on cancer, the other on neurology. BIIB's board has previously made its case to investors to tell Icahn to take a hike.

The Biogen Idec shareholder meeting is June 3rd, exactly one week after the Amylin meeting. The back-to-back battles should be a telling test of Icahn's influence.

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