Amarin, Sarissa continue playing out activist attack
The fight between Amarin and an activist investor group led by a Carl Icahn protégé is getting dirty.
On Wednesday, Sarissa Capital Management — led by Icahn’s former head of healthcare investments Alex Denner — put out a statement decrying a potential Amarin board reorganization as a “sham.” Amarin responded Thursday morning calling Sarissa’s statement “inaccurate and misleading” while saying they have “no plan, no new ideas.”
Amarin shares $AMRN were down about 5% in early Thursday trading.
It’s not the first time the two have come to blows this year, with Sarissa launching the opening salvo last week when it attacked Amarin execs’ “charade.” The roots of this fight, Sarissa says, harken back to Amarin’s dwindling stock and alleged loss of more than $840 million in equity last year.
As Sarissa told it Wednesday:
In 2022 alone, Amarin stock lost over two-thirds of its value, and shareholders lost over $840 million in equity.* The European launch is behind schedule, reimbursement in Germany (typically one of the largest markets in Europe) appears imperiled, and spending mismanagement has weakened the cash coffers. Yet the board has the audacity to state publicly, “the Company made solid progress in 2022, against its strategic objectives.”
Amarin, meanwhile, hit back with the accusation that most of Sarissa’s proposed board members are not qualified to run a public company:
The Board interviewed three of Sarissa’s five proposed candidates, all of whom are Sarissa employees, alongside independent candidates the Board had identified. In addition, Sarissa demanded that at least three of their candidates be appointed in a matter of days after the names were finally shared with the Company. Of note, two of Sarissa’s original five proposed candidates were junior Sarissa research analysts with less than five years of work experience.
The past week’s back-and-forth came after a year in which Amarin found itself a victim of the lengthy biotech bear market. Last June, the company enacted serious cost-cutting measures by laying off 40% of staff and watching its CFO depart. The moves came after a patent fight over its sole approved drug Vascepa, which Amarin lost in a Supreme Court case in 2021.
But Amarin is standing its ground, at least for now. The biotech’s stock price is up about 48% in the last month.