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Genzyme to Face Proxy Battle With Icahn

Jaclyn Jaeger | February 22, 2010

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn is planning to nominate himself and three others to the board of embattled biotechnology company Genzyme.

In addition to himself, Icahn is also seeking the nomination of Steven Burakoff, director of the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center; Richard Mulligan, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School; and Alexander Denner, Icahn’s biotechnology portfolio manager.

In a press release, Genzyme said its nominating and governance committee will evaluate Icahn's nominees and make a recommendation "that is in the best interests of all of the company's shareholders." All nine members of Genzyme's board are up for re-election at the company's annual meeting scheduled for May 20.

In a race to address investor criticism over lack of board independence and company accounting practices, Genzyme has implemented a series of important changes in recent months. Among the changes, it recently added Robert Bertolini, former CFO of drugmaker Schering-Plough Corp, to its board and appointed him chairman of the audit committee. The company also hired new managers to oversee its quality control operations, and agreed to appoint shareholder activist Ralph Whitworth, principal and co-founder of Relational Investors, to its board with the agreement that Whitworth would support Genzyme's slate of nominees.