Now we know what Carl Icahn wants from Genzyme--and it's just what most people expected. He wants a say-so with management. So, now that he has upped his ownership stake in the company, he's nominating four people to serve on Genzyme's board of directors--including himself.
It's all part of Icahn's modus operandi: Invest in a company, agitate for change and aim for a measure of control. Then, spin off assets--as he's proposed for Biogen Idec--or sell the company completely--as he's also proposed for Biogen. The formula worked at ImClone Systems, which sold out to Eli Lilly. And so far, he's won board seats at Amylin Pharmaceuticals as well as Biogen, where he's waging a third proxy fight for more representation on the board.
So, will it work at Genzyme? "We welcome a constructive dialogue with Mr. Icahn," CEO Henri Termeer says in a statement. And Genzyme could use some constructive criticism, what with the manufacturing foibles that sidelined its most important plant last year.
But the company has put in place some defensive measures, too. Another activist investor group, Relational Investors, has agreed to back the company's board nominees at this year's shareholders meeting (in return for a promise of future board representation). If that agreement holds, Icahn could find himself out of luck this year.