Carl Icahn ratcheted up the pressure on Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AMLN) by filing a lawsuit against the drug maker in an effort to extend its board-nomination deadline as the activist investor continues to push for a sale of the company.
Icahn, who owns about 9% of Amylin's shares, last week demanded that Amylin's board extend the window for shareholders to nominate new directors and make proposals at the upcoming annual meeting. He had threatened legal action if Amylin didn't grant his demand and said Monday that his request was ignored.
Icahn's actions came after Amylin reportedly rejected a takeover offer from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY), a decision Icahn sharply criticized.
"We believe Mr. Icahn's lawsuit is without merit," Amylin said Monday. "Amylin's board is fully aware of its fiduciary duties and is committed to always acting in the best interests of all stockholders. The board continually considers all options available and is relentlessly focused on creating the greatest value for our stockholders."
Icahn argued that Amylin is at a crossroads and its shareholders are entitled to nominate a new slate of directors committed to pursuing a sale of the company. He said he also had formally requested copies of Amylin's books and records so he could review the details of the potential acquisition offer and the company's recent stock offering and issuance of options to executives.
Icahn has a history of rattling his saber at small- and mid-cap drug companies, among other stocks that he owns. He maneuvered to become chairman of ImClone Systems, leading to that company's 2008 sale for $6.5 billion to Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY).
Icahn's letter to Amylin last week followed comments he made on CNBC, in which he criticized Amylin for rejecting a reported buyout offer of $22 per share, or $3.5 billion, from Bristol-Myers. He suggested the company could command a higher price in a sale.
Shares of Amylin, which makes diabetes drugs Byetta and Bydureon, have surged more than 50% since Bloomberg News reported on March 28 that Amylin had rejected the offer. Neither company has confirmed that report.
Amylin shares were recently down 2.4% at $23.54. The stock has more than doubled since the start of 2012.
-By Ben Fox Rubin, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3108; email@example.com