Garnier pledges active role on Actelion board

Former GlaxoSmithKline chief Jean-Pierre Garnier (photo) easily won election to the board of Actelion, the Swiss drugmaker that has been under seige by some dissident shareholders. In fact, none of the nominees from Elliott Advisors captured a board seat, as shareholders chose to return Chairman Robert Cawthorn and elect company nominees Garnier and ex-Schering-Plough executive Robert Bertolini.

The election follows months of discord sown by Elliott, which has been pushing the company to explore a sale. But other shareholders appeared less interested in a sale; they voted down Elliott's proposal to investigate any previous discussions with potential buyers.

Garnier, who is set to take over as chairman next year, is firmly in the no-sale camp, at least so far. He defended Actelion's management in an interview with the Financial Times, saying the current leadership team should get another 18 months to prove its strategies are working. "We don't want to cut the tree before the tree is grown," he said.

Garnier also promised that he would be taking an active role on Actelion's board. He wouldn't say what his specific plans are--it would be "a little premature...to roll out my ideas," he told the FT--but emphasized that "this is a company where the board will play a big role."

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