"Balance sheet concerns persist with small-cap names although top picks Rigel ( RIGL), Isis Pharmaceuticals ( ISIS), Cardiome ( CRME), Array Biopharma ( ARRY) and Ariad Pharmaceuticals ( ARIA) have benefited from, or should benefit from meaningful partnership funding and support. With M&A as a major theme we continue to advise focus on antibody products, key therapeutics areas like hepatitis C, orphan indications, and companies with shared economics with larger partners."

Biogen Future in Flux as CEO Exits

(At 5:30 AM EST)

Will Carl Icahn be invited to Biogen Idec ( BIIB) CEO Jim Mullen's retirement party?

I'm going out on a limb to say probably not. But then this may be the only easily answered question related to Mullen's planned retirement in June and its impact on Biogen's future.

Mullen announced Monday afternoon that he is stepping away from the company, both as CEO and as a director. He gave no specific reason for his departure, although a company spokesman told Dow Jones that Mullen was under no pressure from the board or investors to leave the company.

"Investors" means Icahn, naturally, since the well-known activist hedge fund manager has long taken a keen interest in Biogen. He's also been sharply critical of Mullen's tenure as CEO. Last year, Icahn used his significant ownership stake in Biogen to nominate and seat two directors to Biogen's 11-member board. (Two other Icahn director nominees were not elected.) Prior to that, Icahn pressured Biogen's board to sell the company outright. When a sale didn't happen, he accused Mullen and his management team of sandbagging the process.

When Mullen retires in June, he will have 21 years at the company under his belt. He's been chief executive since 2000, which encompasses CEO stints both before and after the 2003 merger with Idec Pharmaceuticals. Maybe Mullen simply felt it was time to move on.

Or maybe he grew tired of battling with Icahn and was looking ahead with dread to the company's next annual meeting in June when Icahn could once again try to get more of his chosen directors nominated to the board. Interestingly enough, Mullen is up for re-election as a director in June -- a tempting target for Icahn, for sure.

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