Actelion hits back at rebel shareholders

SWISS biotech company Actelion hit back at its activist shareholder Elliott Advisors yesterday, claiming the fund was trying to force a fast sale.

Elliott, which holds a six per cent stake in Actelion, has since February been demanding an overhaul of the board and management to unlock value.

Its calls have escalated from querying why Actelion needs to remain independent, asking for details of a rejected takeover bid, demanding that chairman Robert Cawthorn and founder and chief executive Jean-Paul Clozel step down, to replacing six directors with its own to give it board control.

In its response to shareholders, Actelion accused Elliott of trying to steal control without paying for it.

“Elliott offers no alternative to the strategy developed and being executed by Actelion’s board and management team which, in 2010, delivered the highest levels of revenues, operating profit and net income in the history of Actelion,” it said.

Wth many products “approaching key near-term milestones” that are expected to “deliver substantial value for our shareholders”, Elliott’s move was “an ill-timed attempt that would surrender to a potential acquirer the future value that rightly belongs to all shareholders,” it added.

Elliott Advisors is the London-based arm of Elliott Associates, one of the longest-running hedge funds.