Biogen taps Icahn nominee to dodge proxy fight

A bird in hand is worth three in the bush, right? As if to prove that old adage, activist investor Carl Icahn has made a deal with Biogen Idec: He'll give up on nominating three new directors to the company's board--and the proxy fight winning those seats would entail--in return for one solid appointment.

Biogen now says it will appoint Icahn nominee Dr. Eric Rowinsky to its board--and nominate another outsider, Dr. Stephen Sherwin--which would temporarily increase the number of seats to 13 from 12. Icahn Partners will withdraw its other nominees and vote its shares for the slate Biogen has chosen.

The settlement dissipates the threat of a third proxy battle between Biogen and Icahn. With its second proxy battle last year, Icahn won two seats on the company's board; the latest proxy threat was aimed at getting even more representation so Icahn could press his ideas on the company. Icahn has in the past lobbied to break the company in half and sell off at least one of those halves. He's also pushed for an outright sale of the entire thing. What will his next move be? We'll have to wait and see.

- see Biogen's release
- read the Reuters story