Is Amylin caving to proxy pressure?

Is Amylin Pharmaceuticals acting like a kid who won't behave unless his parents threaten punishment? That's what activist shareholders Eastbourne Capital are saying. Sure, Amylin is taking steps to cut costs and streamline sales, now that Eastbourne and equally activist shareholder Carl Icahn are fighting for more control over the company. Good move, yes; but further proof that management needs our guidance, Eastbourne says in its most recent presentation to shareholders.

Eastbourne and Icahn are both in proxy fights with the company, each seeking to get its slate of director nominees onto the Amylin board. Icahn, too, has pushed the company to cut costs, but the company had been fighting back, saying as recently as last month that further slashing its budget would just undermine its efforts to get the once-weekly version of its diabetes med Byetta onto the market. But after announcing sales force cuts of about 35 percent, Amylin was touting a new analyst report from JP Morgan, which applauded the cuts, calling them "a necessary step given the company's previously bloated cost structure."

BNet Pharma says Amylin's about-face on cost cuts is  a.) embarrassing, and b.) validation that Icahn was right. Apparently Eastbourne agrees. "It has consistently been our view that Amylin management needs more effective oversight and guidance from the company's board," Eastbourne founder Rick Barry said in a statement about the filing. "The directors we have nominated ... will come to the Board without preconceived notions, prepared to assess and pursue the best means for the commercialization of Amylin's products." In other words, vote for our slate. Please.

- read the Eastbourne release
- see the item at BNet Pharma