Biogen Blinks, Cedes Icahn 1 Board Seat

One of Carl Icahn's rebel nominees made it onto the board of Biogen after a heady shareholder meeting, the company admits. As for the contested second seat? That one's still too close to call.
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Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Report

today confirmed that its shareholders elected one of Carl Icahn's dissident nominees to its board at Wednesday's combative annual meeting.

Still, the biotech firm said results for the election of a second rebel were too close to call.

In the wake of the vote Wednesday afternoon, Icahn was loudly claiming that, according to his camp's own tally, his slate had won two seats. That would move him one step closer to his stated goal of forcing the breakup or sale of Biogen.

"We have the count. We did the count. We think we're there," Icahn told TheStreet.com, two hours after the close of the meeting.

Alexander Denner was the Icahn nominee who won, Biogen said. Richard Mulligan, a Harvard medical professor, is the candidate who awaits the official count. The company did not say when that would occur.

Icahn, who controls about 9.4% of the company, has been trying for two years to effect changes at Biogen. He failed to win board seats in a proxy battle last year.

In the interview Wednesday, he would not be specific about his immediate plans should he win the two seats. "You hope that we can sort of do what we did with ImClone," he said, referring to the biotech firm he helped push into the hands of

Eli Lily

(LLY) - Get Report

for $6.5 billion last year. "It's sort of analogous. We just hope to make

management more accountable."

Icahn's relationship with ImClone's top management was, however, somewhat friendlier. When asked if he intended to attempt to oust Biogen's chief executive, James Mullen, whom Icahn has made no bones about criticizing sharply and publicly, Icahn rebuffed the question.

"No, no. Don't say that," he said. "Don't say that."

Icahn went on to criticize Biogen's current management again, calling it "dysfunctional."

The biotech concern held its annual meeting in Cambridge, Mass., Wednesday when the company's chairman suddenly gavelled a recess to the proceedings, extending the time shareholders have to vote for three hours. Icahn associates were heard yelling their protests from the floor.

When the meeting reconvened, company executives immediately adjourned it again without totting up the votes.

Icahn immediately cried foul, accusing the company of manipulating the election, a charge that Biogen has denied.

Biogen shares closed Thursday at $53.15, down 28 cents for the day.

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