Hedge fund Elliott throws in towel at Actelion

ZURICH Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:56am EDT

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors has cut its stake in Swiss biotech firm Actelion to under 3 percent, in a sign it has given up trying to force change in the boardroom or push for a sale.

The hedge fund, which had built up a stake of around 6 percent, suffered a severe setback at a shareholder meeting in May when it failed to get its nominated candidates elected to the board.

It has since been lowering its stake. According to data published on the website of the Swiss stock exchange SIX on Wednesday, its investment has fallen below 3 percent.

Actelion (ATLN.VX) shares were 4 percent higher at 30.95 Swiss francs at 1251 GMT, outperforming a 0.7 percent higher healthcare sector index .SXDP.

"The shares had come under pressure recently because Elliott was selling shares. This pressure has disappeared now," a Zurich-based trader said.

Actelion shares have lost almost 42 percent of their value so far this year after soaring in the second half of 2010 on speculation Elliott might force a sale of the company.

"Elliott Advisors seems to have at least partly lost interest in Actelion," ZKB analysts said in a note. "That is positive for Actelion as the conflicts were very time-consuming and kept the management busy."

The New York-based hedge fund had criticised Actelion's strategy, blaming the management for a series of product setbacks.

But shareholders in May backed Actelion Chief Executive Jean-Paul Clozel and Chairman Robert Cawthorn.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Paul Arnold; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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