Actelion shares plummet as jury favours Asahi in licensing dispute

City A.M. Reporter
SHARES in Actelion tumbled yesterday after a jury decided Asahi Kasei Pharma should be awarded up to $547m in a licence dispute.

The decision puts Actelion under even more pressure ahead of its annual general meeting this Thursday when it will square up to largest shareholder Elliott Advisors, which has accused the $7.7bn (£4.6bn) company of squandering shareholder value through its high-risk strategy.

Elliott, which has urged Actelion to consider putting itself up for sale, has proposed six drug industry and M&A experts for the board.

The amount being awarded to Asahi is considerably higher than expected and could further rattle shareholders after a string of product setbacks for Actelion last year.

In a statement, Elliot said it wasn’t calling for the AGM to be postponed, but the outcome of the case meant a delay would be prudent “to give all shareholders more time to reconsider their proxy instructions and vote for real change.”

Two other large shareholders are backing Actelion, which also has support from investor group Ethos, which can be influential in Switzerland, Germany-based independent proxy voting service IVOX and proxy firm Glass Lewis.

Actelion shares closed 8.71 per cent lower yesterday.