Carl Icahn officially landed at least one seat on Biogen Idec's board, and another of his nominees is still in the running in a race that's "too close to call," the company says. But what does the vote mean? It may be an affirmation of the old "if at first you don't succeed" saying; after all, Icahn failed dismally last year in his attempt to seat an ally on Biogen's board. It could also be a shareholder rebuke to company executives, as the Boston Globe puts it, or an emblem of investor frustration with the company's lackluster stock performance. Maybe shareholders approve of Icahn's plan to break Biogen into two companies.
Whatever prompted shareholders to vote the way they did--and however that undecided race ends up--it's clear that the new Biogen board will have to bury several hatchets. The shareholder meeting was a "raucous" affair, the Wall Street Journal reports, with accusations and counter-accusations flying as the company did some last-minute lobbying for votes. If board confabs are conducted similarly, the directors will never get any work done, let along revamp the company.
Biogen recognizes the problem, at least. In a statement today, Chairman Bruce Ross made noises about "working together," and a company spokeswoman elaborated on the theme: "To all of Mr. Icahn's comments, I would say it's time we moved beyond colorful rhetoric and focus instead on working together to continue to drive shareholder value at Biogen Idec," Jennifer Neiman told the Globe. "We welcome Dr. Denner to the board, and regardless of the outcome of the vote for the remaining director, we are confident that all members of the board will share the common goal of what's good for our shareholders."