By Jessica Toonkel
NEW YORK, July 18 Obesity drugmaker Vivus Inc
has delayed its board election, which was scheduled for
Thursday morning, as it negotiates with shareholder First
Manhattan Co, according to two sources familiar with the
The meeting, which was originally scheduled for 8 a.m. PDT,
has been delayed two hours, but might be postponed further if
settlement talks continue, said the sources, who wished to
remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak to the
A settlement between the two parties is expected shortly,
said one of the sources.
A First Manhattan spokesman declined to comment. Vivus
declined to comment.
First Manhattan, which is Vivus' largest shareholder and
owns 9.9 percent of shares outstanding, is pushing to replace
all nine members of Vivus' board, a small drugmaker which has
failed to capitalize on the first new diet pill to reach the
U.S. market in over a decade. Some analysts have called it the
ugliest proxy fight yet in biotech, a field rife with activism
from the likes of Carl Icahn and others.
FMC has accused the company of bungling the marketing of its
Qsymia drug and of failing to install a management team with
extensive commercial drug launch experience.
Earlier this month, FMC took the unusual step of announcing
that Tony Zook, a former senior executive at pharmaceutical
company AstraZeneca, would be installed as the new Vivus CEO
should it prevail in gaining control of the board.
Just over the past few days the proxy battle has gotten
particularly ugly, with each side accusing the other of illegal
or unethical practices.
In a research report Wednesday, Cowen and Co analyst Simos
Simeonidis predicted an outright victory for First Manhattan in