Proxy adviser ISS backs ouster of Progenics CEO in activist battle

An activist investor is angling to oust Progenics' CEO after the drugmaker opted to sell instead of negotiating over board seats. Now, an influential proxy advisory firm has thrown its weight behind the CEO's removal and three of the challenger's nominees for Progenics' board. 

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recommended the removal of CEO Mark Baker and the election of three board nominees from Velan Capital, which has waged a proxy fight against the drugmaker's "troubled track record."

The firm supported nominees Gérard Ber, David Mims and Eric Ende, a name familiar to those who follow biopharma proxy battles; for instance, he served on Genzyme's board ahead of that sale to Sanofi and worked with activist Carl Icahn during his challenges to Biogen leadership.

Velan applauded the ISS recommendation in a statement and urged shareholders to also elect two other nominees: Ann MacDougall and Heinz Mäusli.

"In our view, the addition of only three of our director nominees would represent insufficient change given the value destructive behavior of the current Board––behavior that ISS widely acknowledges throughout its report," Velan said.

RELATED: Progenics inked a merger to avoid negotiating a proxy war. One activist still wants to fight