Icahn pushes Amylin board to open up for sale

Attention Big Pharma shoppers: Amylin ($AMLN) could soon be more motivated to make a deal. Investor Carl Icahn, who's been agitating for change at Amylin for some time now, chastised the company's board for spurning Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY)--and told the directors to get to work on a sale. Now.

"I believe there are more than a few potential acquirers for the company that could achieve significant synergies from the acquisition," Icahn wrote in an open letter to the board. And if the company doesn't listen, Icahn said, he "would not shy away" from a proxy fight.

Analysts agree about potential suitors: They've put together lists, including AstraZeneca ($AZN), Merck ($MRK), Forest Laboratories ($FRX), Takeda Pharmaceutical ($TKPHF), Sanofi ($SNY) and, of course, Bristol-Myers. Some of these companies would be better positioned to "achieve significant synergies," namely those that already shop products in Amylin's key market, diabetes. And they could afford to pay more than the $22 per share that Bristol-Myers reportedly bid.

Icahn also thinks the $22 price could be surpassed in an orderly sales process. But there's no guarantee the Amylin board will act on his recommendations. Two Icahn associates won board seats during a previous fight, "but apparently their influence has not been enough to keep the board from mishandling a Bristol-Myers proposal," his letter states. And to allow Icahn the chance at a proxy battle, the company would have to extend its deadline for board nominations. He's asking for just that. We'll have to wait and see how Amylin responds.

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