- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Monday activist investor Carl Icahn plans to push for a sale of the company to drugmaker Eli Lilly if he can take control of Amylin’s board of directors, but Icahn disputed that contention.

Amylin on Monday made public a letter from its lead independent director, James N. Wilson, to Icahn. In that letter, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wilson wrote that Icahn told management he would “leverage” the Amylin-Eli Lilly partnership to sell Amylin.

A statement from Icahn took issue with the letter, saying it “completely misstated and mischaracterized conversations that took place between him and both Joseph Cook, chairman of Amylin and Mr. Wilson over the weekend.” The statement said a more detailed response would be coming.

Lilly and Amylin are partners on the twice-daily injectable diabetes treatment Byetta and a developing once-weekly version of the same drug called exenatide LAR.

“Amylin’s board and management believe that a sale of the company today would dramatically undervalue the opportunity shareholders will have through the approval and launch of exenatide once weekly,” Wilson wrote in the letter.

Icahn is trying to place five nominees on the 12-member board of directors and has called for the resignation of Amylin Chairman Joseph Cook. Meanwhile, Eastbourne Capital is trying to put its own slate of directors on the board.

Amylin has nominated two new directors among its slate.

Last year Icahn brokered the sale of ImClone Systems Inc. to Lilly for more than $6 billion. He is also making a second attempt at overtaking the board of directors at Biogen idec Inc.

Eli Lilly would not comment on the filing Monday.

“We think it’s inappropriate to comment on any discussions between Amylin and its shareholders,” Eli Lilly spokesman Mark Taylor said.

Amylin, meanwhile, also said in the filing that Icahn said he would immediately cut costs by 30 percent beyond the 16 percent achieved by the company in the first quarter.

The takeover attempt at Amylin is taking place as the company wraps up development of exenatide LAR, the long-lasting version of Byetta. Sales of Byetta, which is made in partnership with Eli Lilly, have been lagging since being linked to cases of acute pancreatitis in 2008. That has raised concern on Wall Street over the chances of approval for exenatide LAR.

The company plans to ask for FDA approval in the second quarter.

Shares of Amylin rose 2 cents to close at $10.20, while shares of Eli Lilly fell 76 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $32.99 as the broader market fell sharply.


AP Business Writer Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this story.

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