NEW YORK (AP) -- Activist and billionaire investor Carl Icahn called for the resignation of Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. Chairman Joseph Cook Wednesday as part of his powerplay to place a slate of nominees on the board of directors.
Icahn, in a letter to Cook, told the chairman and former Amylin chief executive that he should be the first director to resign. He also likened the company's various 'Poison Pill' programs to a dictatorship stamping out investor dissent. 'Poison Pill' programs are shareholder plans designed to make it more difficult and more costly to conduct an unsolicited takeover.
"You have been the chairman and/or CEO during the time that an enormous amount of stockholder value has been destroyed and for reasons, described below, a flawed strategy has existed for far too long," Icahn wrote.
Neither Amylin nor Cook had an immediate response to Icahn's latest salvo. It follows a similar call for Cook's resignation by recently resigned board member Howard E. Greene Jr. He stepped down after the company excluded him and fellow board member Ginger L. Graham from its list of nominees.
Icahn, who owns about 9.43 percent of Amylin stock, is trying to replace five of the 12 board members with his own choices. It is similar to the power play he made before taking control of ImClone Systems Inc. in 2006 and his current and prior attempts to take over Biogen Idec Inc. Meanwhile, Eastbourne Capital, which owns a 12.5 percent stake in Amylin, has said it would nominate a slate of five directors.
Amylin has named two new director nominees, including Paul N. Clark, former chairman and chief executive of Icos Corp., and Paulo F. Costa, former chairman and CEO of Novartis U.S. Both would be independent directors if elected at the upcoming annual meeting.
The company recommended that shareholders vote for its slate of nominees during the May 27 annual meeting.
San Diego-based Amylin has been reeling from falling sales of its twice-daily injectable diabetes treatment Byetta, and shares are down about 66 percent over the past 52 weeks. The drug was linked to cases of acute pancreatitis in 2008, raising concern over the approval of the company's next-generation diabetes treatment exenatide LAR, which is injected once-weekly. The company plans to ask for FDA approval in the second quarter.