Major Actelion investor backs board over activist

ACTIVIST hedge fund Elliott Advisors suffered a setback in its battle with Swiss biotech company Actelion yesterday after a major shareholder backed the firm’s board.

BB Biotech, which holds almost five per cent of Actelion’s shares, said it would back all the board’s proposals in the annual meeting on 5 May.

It means about 15 per cent of Actelion’s shareholders now publicly favour the board, after 5.5 per cent shareholder Rudolf Maag voiced his support last month.

“We have managed our investment in Actelion actively over many years and have enjoyed excellent returns,” Zurich-based BB Biotech, a pure-biotech investor, said in a statement.

BB Biotech admitted it had been “disappointed” by the results of some past decisions taken by the board.

“But we have never doubted the competence of Actelion’s scientists, the commitment of their management or the veracity of their board,” it said. “We won’t change our minds now.”

Elliott, which holds around seven per cent of the firm, wants seven members of the board to step down, including founder Jean-Paul Clozel, and six directors of its choice to join.

It has complained of poor corporate governance, criticised Actelion’s drug pipeline and demanded a strategic review viewed widely as a call for a sale or merger with another firm