Activist investor Alex Denner in the spotlight again as the Medicines Company shrinks its board

Alex Denner

The Medicines Company $MDCO is downsizing its board from 12 to 7 directors in a move that will give activist investor Alex Denner considerable control of the company.

In an SEC filing, the company stated that the decision is “a result of the rapid and significant evolution our business and the narrowing of our operational focus onto inclisiran.”

Clive Meanwell

The directors who will be nominated at the annual shareholder meeting are Denner, Medicines Company CEO Clive Meanwell, Fredric Eshelman, Geno Germano, John Kelly, Paris Panayiotopoulos, and Sarah Schlesinger. Schlesinger was appointed just two days ahead of the announcement about restructuring, and is one of three board members with close ties to Denner.

Germano was a fellow board member of Denner at Bioverativ, Biogen’s hematology spinout which got acquired by Sanofi for $11.6 billion. Panayiotopoulos and Schlesinger were on the board of Ariad Pharma, the cancer drug maker Takeda swallowed in a $5.2 billion deal. Denner was credited for orchestrating the sales of both companies.

That’s not surprising given his background. A Carl Icahn protege, Denner is a power player behind some of biotech’s most high profile M&A deals: Imclone by Eli Lilly, and Genzyme by Sanofi. He later founded his own biopharma fund, Sarissa Capital Management, and is now the chief investment officer.

Sarassa Capital owns a 2.6% stake in Parsippany, NJ-based Medicines Company, which Denner’s been involved with since early 2016.

The biotech has been reorganizing its business since last October, axing its workforce to a lean 60-staffer team and selling its infectious disease unit to Melinta, to remain laser-focused on its PCSK9 inhibitor.

William Crouse, Elizabeth Wyatt, Melvin Spigelman, Hiroaki Shigeta and Armin Kessler are the five who didn’t make the cut. The company’s shares were up 9.8% in afternoon trading but has since gone down from the peak.

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