Actelion shareholders rebuff hedge fund Elliott Advisors

5th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Shareholders at Swiss biotechnology firm Actelion on Thursday rebuffed attempts by hedge fund Elliott Advisors to replace senior board members and secure control of the company.

About 500 shareholders or their representatives rejected the motions presented by Elliott, which has said it holds a six percent stake in Actelion, during the company's Annual General Meeting.

Elliott was calling for the departure of chairman Robert Cawthorn and chief executive Jean-Paul Clozel and seeking to place six of its candidates on the board.

But Elliott's representative Dominik Dolenec was booed and the motion for the chairman's resignation was rejected by 52 million votes to 25 million. Clozel was re-elected.

Dolenec argued that the time had come for "shareholders have a real choice in the future direction of Actelion."

Cawthorn retorted: "I urge you not hand over the keys of Actelion. We need to focus on what we achieved."

Actelion's candidates, including former GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier and US pharmaceutical group Schering-Plough's former chief financial officer Robert Bertolini, were elected to the board.

Actelion's net profit increased by 10 percent to 146.3 millions Swiss francs (114.9 millions euros) in the first quarter.

However the company is still heavily reliant on its first drug, the pulmonary hypertension treatment Tracleer, whose patent lapses in 2015, with a prospective heart drug only ready for phase II trials later this year.

Actelion's share price dropped by 5.8 percent on Thursday.

© 2011 AFP

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