Icahn Strategist Behind Pharma Forays May Leave

Icahn Strategist Behind Pharma Forays May Leave

September 19th, 2011 // 12:26 pm @

A key strategist behind the various forays Carl Icahn has made into pharmaceutical and biotech boardrooms may be leaving the billionaire investor. Alex Denner, a senior managing director at Icahn Enterprise, may start his own hedge fund by the end of the year, although Icahn could wind up becoming one of the investors, Bloomberg News reports.

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At first blush, such a move might suggest, to some, that Icahn may not look as quickly at pharma and biotechs as targets. Denner, 42, has been a senior managing director at Icahn Enterprises and a quiet, but aggressive strategist who helped engineer Icahn various forays, such as taking large positions in Genzyme, which is now part of Sanofi, and MedImmune, which was purchased by AstraZeneca.

As part of his work at the Icahn firm, Denner is also chairman of Enzon Pharmaceuticals, and a board member at both Biogen and Amylin Pharmaceuticals. He was already an Icahn ally before joining the billionaire five years ago. At the time, he was a portfolio manager at Viking Global Investors, which was one of the largest shareholders in ImClone Systems, where he was also on the board.

Not every deal has worked out as planned, though. Three years ago, Icahn and Denner gave up on an attempt to purchase Biogen (read this) and, more recently, they failed to get their nominees elected to the Forest Laboratories board (read here)

But given the tenacity Denner has displayed, his overall track record and the difficulties that some companies can be expected to encounter, it would not be surprising to see him continue to hunt and peck among underperforming pharma and biotech stocks for still more boardroom clashes. And if Icahn becomes an investor, their approach is likely to persist, more or less.

Icahn, by the way, recently disclosed in a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing that he longer wants to oversee cash for clients because of concerns about the economy and unrest in the Middle East, writes Bloomberg. The news service adds that Icahn recently signed an agreement with Denner that increased his share of the profits generated by the Forest investment.

Source: Pharmalot

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