Proxy update: Biovail settles, Biogen fights


A tale of two proxy contests: Biovail announced today that it had settled its differences with founder Eugene Melnyk--at least its differences about its board of directors. Melnyk will support the company's slate of nominees now rather than vote for his own alternative slate. In return, the Canadian pharma will appoint the Melnyk-recommended Frank Potter to its board and Audit Committee immediately after Thursday's annual meeting.

What's more, Melnyk has given his Scout's Honor that he won't mount another proxy contest until after the 2010 shareholders' meeting. That gives Biovail at least one year of reprieve. "We are very pleased that we can now move forward and focus on the continued successful implementation of our New Strategic Focus through next year's AGM," said Dr. Douglas Squires, Chairman of the Biovail board. Indeed.

Meanwhile, at Biogen Idec, the company announced that two proxy advisory firms had put their weight behind management's slate of board candidates, recommending that shareholders vote against activist investor Carl Icahn's alternative slate. A third firm, however, didn't recommend the company's nominees for board seats.

Icahn is in the midst of his second proxy fight for board representation at Biogen. Among his suggestions for management: Cut the company in two, and cut costs while you're at it. Last year, Icahn accused Biogen of sabotaging its own efforts to find a buyer (which Icahn, of course, had instigated to begin with), and then lost his proxy fight. Will he be any more successful this time around? We'll find out at the June 3 meeting.

- read the Biovail release
- Check out the Biogen news from the New York Times