Biogen Idec probably hates to say it, but Carl was right. When the activist investor announced last week that he'd snared two seats on Biogen's board, the company came back with its own count, saying that Icahn did capture one seat--but maybe not the second. Today, though, the company officially welcomed two Icahn-backed directors.
Whether two will be better than one in this case remains to be seen, however. The Icahn directors have a track record of success: As ImClone Systems board members, they helped engineer that company's sale, with Icahn's backing--and to his enrichment, of course. This time around, Icahn wants Biogen to consider breaking into two separate companies or to sell out to a Big Pharma; can Alexander Denner and Richard Mulligan persuade the rest of Biogen's directors to take one of those radical steps?
Working against them will be the failure of Icahn's bid to limit the size of Biogen's board to 13 people. Shareholders voted that provision down when they voted Denner and Mulligan in. So Biogen could add directors at will to dilute the Icahn allies' influence. Whether Biogen will do so remains to be seen. Indeed, Biogen's entire future appears shrouded in mystery right now, so we'll have to wait and see if time brings clarity.