Illumina shareholders oust board chair, CEO survives Carl Icahn battle
Rafael Henrique | Lightrocket | Getty Photographs
Activist investor Carl Icahn on Thursday gained sufficient help from Illumina shareholders to oust the biotech firm’s board chair.
Shareholders booted chairman John Thompson. An Illumina spokesperson stated a brand new chair shall be chosen within the subsequent few weeks.
Icahn had urged shareholders to vote off the corporate’s CEO Francis deSouza and Thompson from the nine-member board. DeSouza survived the proxy struggle.
Shareholders additionally voted to put in certainly one of Icahn’s three board nominees, Andrew Teno, a portfolio supervisor at Icahn Capital LP, an entity the place Icahn manages funding funds.
The vote was introduced after Illumina’s annual assembly, marking a decisive finish to a two-month proxy struggle between Icahn and the corporate over a controversial acquisition.
Illumina, in an announcement, thanked Thompson for his service through the years, saying his government and enterprise expertise was deeply valued.
Earlier this month, proxy advisory agency Institutional Shareholder Providers really helpful that Illumina shareholders again Teno.
Icahn, who owns a 1.4% stake in San Diego-based Illumina, had proposed two different director candidates who’re his present or former workers.
The vote is a blow to Illumina, which has claimed Icahn’s three nominees lack “related abilities and expertise” and would “threaten the progress” of the biotech firm’s core DNA sequencing enterprise.
Battle over Grail acquisition
Icahn has accused Illumina’s government administration and nine-member board of poor oversight, notably with regard to the corporate’s $7.1 billion acquisition of most cancers check maker Grail in 2021.
He has known as on the corporate to unwind the “absurd and questionable” deal and oust deSouza “instantly.”
Icahn has slammed the chief for receiving an enormous pay bump regardless of a steep drop within the firm’s market worth.
Illumina’s market cap has plunged to roughly $33 billion from about $75 billion in August 2021, the month it closed the Grail acquisition.
A lot of Icahn’s resistance to the deal stems from Illumina’s resolution to shut it with out approval from antitrust regulators within the U.S. and Europe.
The Federal Commerce Fee in April ordered Illumina to divest itself of the acquisition over issues that it might stifle competitors and innovation.
The FTC’s resolution reverses an administrative choose’s September ruling, which dismissed the company’s preliminary problem to the deal.
The European Fee, the chief physique of the European Union, additionally blocked the deal final yr over related issues.
Illumina is interesting each orders and expects last selections in late 2023 or early 2024.
The corporate has repeatedly defended its acquisition of Grail.
DeSouza informed CNBC final month that the deal “is sensible” as a result of Illumina can considerably increase the marketplace for Grail’s early screening check, which might detect greater than 50 sorts of cancers via a single blood draw.
The CEO additionally touted Grail’s 100% income development through the first quarter in contrast with the identical interval a yr in the past.
In 2022, Grail generated round $55 million in income. Illumina expects it to make as much as $110 million this yr.
Icahn encountered his personal criticism through the proxy battle.
Notable brief vendor Hindenburg Analysis accused Icahn Enterprises of being overvalued and likened it to “Ponzi-like financial constructions.”
Icahn Enterprises has known as these claims “deceptive and self-serving.”
— CNBC’s Spencer Kimball contributed to this report.