Icahn conquers ImClone

Ashley Milne-Tyte Oct 25, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Carl Icahn clearly knows a thing or two about business. Say the words corporate raider and he’s the guy most people probably think of. So it’s a bit curious that he woke up this morning as the chairman of the board of a company with no CEO and only one product on the market.

ImClone makes Erbitux, an anti-cancer drug. That’s the only thing it makes. Icahn owns 14 percent of the company. So you can see he’d have a stake in how it’s run. But Ashely Milne-Tyte reports Icahn might have his hands full with this one.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: The problem as Carl Icahn sees it is that the ImClone board has done a lousy job of running the company and managing its blockbuster cancer drug Erbitux. He’s complained none of ImClone’s recent CEOs have any biotech experience. Alex Lash covers the industry for The Deal:

ALEX LASH:“What Icahn has been so adamant about and basically has proved to be this management team’s downfall is that they haven’t pushed more aggressively to maintain Erbitux’s market share.”

Icahn feels Erbitux has lost ground because the company hasn’t been doing enough to promote the drug. So now that Icahn has operating control of ImClone, what can the company and its shareholders expect? Biotech analyst Geoffrey Porges:

GEOFFREY PORGES:“I find it hard to believe that Mr. Icahn really wants to run a biotech company long-term. I don’t think that that’s the way he’s gonna generate a return for his investment.”

He says it’s more likely that Icahn sees a chance to sell ImClone to another company. But only if he can get a rich profit, says Porter Bibb of Media Tech Capital Partners. Drug maker Bristol Myers already owns a good chunk of ImClone. And Bibb says French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis recently made an offer for ImClone, which Icahn rejected.

PORTER BIBB:“If you read into the tea leaves, maybe he is going to play Bristol-Myers off of Sanofi and try to bring both of them back to the table and create a little bit of an auction that would maybe sell the company at somewhere north of the Sanofi offer.”

In which case, Bibb says the sale price could be more than a hundred million dollars.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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