* Elliott Advisors has nearly 6 percent stake in Actelion
* Letter calls for chairman and CEO to resign from board
* Actelion says has received letter, to react in due course
* Shares rise 3.5 percent
(Recasts with detail from letter, shares, analyst comment)
By Paul Arnold and Quentin Webb
ZURICH/LONDON, Feb 4 Actelion ATLN.VX shares
rose 3.5 percent on Friday after hedge fund shareholder Elliott
Advisors called for its chairman and chief executive to resign
from the board in a push for a sale of the Swiss biotech firm.
The shares have been trading in a tight range since
mid-November, when Chief Executive Jean-Paul Clozel sought to
quash takeover speculation, saying maintaining independence was
the best way to ensure value for the company's shareholders.
Elliott said Clozel's attitude to a potential sale of the
company was not in shareholders' interests.
"We believe his public statements and apparent campaign to
keep the company independent are wholly inconsistent with his
position as a board member and the fiduciary requirements of
that role, i.e. the protection of shareholders' best interests,"
it wrote to Actelion.
A copy of the letter was obtained by Reuters.
Rumours of a possible buyout buffeted the company's share
price through the autumn, with the favourite mooted suitor being
U.S. biotech giant Amgen (AMGN.O).
No offer for the company has emerged but many analysts think
a sale to a large drugmaker that is hungry to add new products
would make sense.
"We believe that a takeover would release substantial
value and we continue to believe that the risk-reward balance in
Actelion is very attractive," said Kepler Research analyst Tero
Shares in Actelion were up 3.5 percent at 0850 GMT,
outperforming a flat Stoxx European Healthcare index .SXDP.
The Elliott letter was addressed to Actelion directors on
Thursday. It demanded that chairman Robert Cawthorn and chief
executive Clozel step down from the board.
Elliott Advisors said management was not addressing concerns
about Actelion's strategic direction and said the share price
was too low. The hedge fund said it had a stake of nearly 6
percent in Actelion, up from just over 3 percent before
"We have received the letter. The board is looking at it and
will react when the time is right," Actelion spokesman Roland
Actelion shares gained strongly in the final months of 2010
on talk the world's largest biotech company Amgen (AMGN.O) or
others could be interested in making an offer for the Swiss
The group's efforts to reduce its dependence on key drug
Tracleer, which treats a rare heart and lung disorder and rakes
in more than $1 billion a year, have been thwarted by a string
Actelion management has continually said the company wants
to remain independent. [ID:nLDE6AG037] [ID:nLDE69J2BX]
(Additional reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Dan Lalor
and Ben Hirschler)