First Manhattan sues Vivus for 'illegally' delaying shareholder vote

More tit-for-tat between Vivus ($VVUS) and proxy challenger First Manhattan Co. The company's rebel shareholder sued Vivus for postponing its annual meeting, accusing the board of directors of stalling to keep themselves in office.

Vivus shareholders were scheduled to gather yesterday for their annual meeting. Proxy votes would have been totted up. But the company claimed FMC's advisers were dispensing false information to shareholders and said it had reported the "misleading statements" to the Securities and Exchange Commission. And Vivus put off the annual meeting until Thursday.

"Vivus didn't like what it saw on the scoreboard, so it decided to move the goal post," FMC chief Sam Colin said in a statement. "The Vivus directors need to be held accountable for their actions."

It's just the latest in a bitter proxy fight mounted by FMC, Vivus' top shareholder, which has nominated a slate of 9 directors to replace the company's entire board. The investment firm lambastes Vivus for fumbling the launch of its obesity drug Qsymia and failing to win European approval for the drug. 

Vivus, on the other hand, says it's making progress with Qsymia, including engaging in partnership talks with a bigger drugmaker. It inked a licensing deal on its as-yet-unlaunched erectile dysfunction drug Stendra with Menarini, the Italian drugmaker, which plans to roll it out under the Spedra brand name this year. Vivus execs say allowing FMC to wrest control away would disrupt the gains they've made.

Now, FMC is asking a Delaware court to block Vivus from touting its case for proxy votes and to go ahead and certify the results of the election based on the votes that had been turned in as of yesterday.

- get the announcement from FMC
- see the Reuters news