Icahn launches third fight with Biogen

Carl Icahn must be hoping that the third time's the charm. He's launching his third proxy battle with Biogen Idec, aiming for three more seats on the company's board of directors. If he wins all three, he would have a total of five representatives helping call the shots on the 12-member board. (His proxy materials also include a proposal to amend the bylaws to fix the number of directors at 12.)

Icahn succeeded last June in seizing two board seats; he had sought three. Since then, Biogen's chairman has been replaced and CEO James Mullen announced his intention to retire. But what Icahn really wants is to either set up the company for sale or split it into two pieces. And he's not the only disgruntled shareholder; other investors have questioned its handling of Tysabri, the multiple sclerosis drug that's been linked to cases of a rare but potentially fatal brain infection.

Hence Icahn's bid for more influence over Biogen's governance. He's sent notice to Biogen that he intends to nominate three directors, among them Thomas Duel, former board member at ImClone, the company Icahn served as chairman--and succeeded in selling to Eli Lilly for $6.5 billion in 2008. The other two are Eric Rowinsky, ImClone's former CMO; and Richard Young, an MIT researcher.

Biogen says in a statement that it will evaluate Icahn's nominees and his board-size proposal, then make a recommendation "in the best interests of all shareholders."

- get the Biogen release
- see the Reuters news