Aegerion has faced increasing investor pressure of late, with a barrage of hostilities from activist investor, Alex Denner. He won a breakthrough earlier this year when a standstill agreement was reached with the board and CEO, Marc Beer, to nominate an independent board director for his investment firm Sarissa Capital Management, installing Jorge Plutzky as the nominated independent director . Denner is a former investor with Carl Icahn, also famed for his aggressive investor activism and ability to use corporate governance to enforce change.
A mere three months down the track and the company has seen three C-suite executives exit. First out was CFO Mark Fitzpatrick, now he’s been followed by COO Craig Fraser and also CEO Marc Beer. This is a second CEO scalp for Denner after he forced Ariad CEO Harvey Berger to take an early bath after a proxy fight earlier this year.
Aegerion is now headed by an interim CEO, Sandy Smith, who is well reputed in the rare diseases industry, having had an illustrious career at Genzyme. They also pulled in Greg Perry as CFO on an interim basis too. Given the competitive threat Aegerion now faces to lead asset Juxatpid from the new PCSK9 cardiovascular drugs, Denner is most likely shaping the company for a sale.
The stock was trading at $18.53 following the news, off its peak of $97.24, which perhaps tells its own story.