Actelion wins US proxy vote agency support

Swiss biotech company Actelion has won the backing of proxy voting agency Glass Lewis in its defence against US activist investor Elliott Advisors.

San Francisco-based Glass Lewis said Elliott, which has built an almost six per cent stake in Actelion, had “failed to outline serious troubles with the company or provide shareholders with a detailed plan as to how it could improve its performance.”

Elliott has criticised Actelion’s corporate governance and board makeup, and said its drug pipeline is too dependent on a few new treatments and is a high risk strategy for shareholders.

It has proposed a board shake-up and has asked shareholders to vote to remove seven members of the current board, including founding chief executive Jean-Pierre Clozel, and add six new non-executive directors of its choosing to the board.

But Glass Lewis said it believed “shareholders would be best served by keeping the incumbent board in place at this time, particularly given that an overwhelming majority of the incumbent directors as well as the new board nominees are independent.”

It also refuted the idea that Actelion was underperforming.

“The company's R&D-to-sales ratio has been reasonably near the mean and median percentages observed within the peer composite for at least each of the last five years,” it said.

"We see that the board has recently implemented a share buyback programme and has proposed an annual dividend payment in an effort to enhance shareholder value.”

Actelion’s shareholders will vote on all resolutions at the company’s annual general meeting on 5 May.