Immunomedics and VenBio battle goes on
- In the ongoing battle between biopharma and investor, VenBio Select Advisor has rejected Immunomedics' revised settlement proposal over the company's 2016 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.
- The proposal included four VenBio nominees on the board along with four Immunomedics nominees, the step down of Jason Aryeh, who was due to become chair in June 2017, and a formal search for a new CEO. Immunomedics is urging stockholders, large and small, to vote as soon as possible, and has delayed the closing of the Seattle Genetics deal until after March 10, 2017.
- VenBio is also urging shareholders to vote for its own candidates, accusing Immunomedics of "misleading" shareholders.
Immunomedics and its activist investor VenBio have been battling it out in the ring of late, and neither seems to be prepared to give in. VenBio has accused Immunomedics of undervaluing its cancer drug candidate IMMU-132 in a recently brokered licensing deal with Seattle Genetics.
Meanwhile, Immunomedics sees VenBio as trying to take control of the company "in order to attempt to dissolve the stockholder-friendly Seattle Genetics partnership in favor of VenBio's highly dilutive strategy to proprietarily direct future dilutive financings to themselves and a select few other institutional stockholders."
After VenBio tried to block the deal with Seattle Genetics, Immunomedics took the investor to court for "material violations of federal securities laws", and is seeking financial redress.
"Unfortunately, Immunomedics continues to attempt to mislead stockholders, as they have over the course of this campaign. The settlement conversation alluded to in their press release today simply did not occur as described. In reality, we told the company’s legal counsel yesterday evening that given how close we now are to the Annual Meeting, we felt it was best to proceed with the vote and allow the will of the stockholders to be heard," said Behzad Aghazadeh, managing partner and portfolio manager at VenBio.
"VenBio’s four nominees – Peter Barton Hutt, Scott Canute, Dr. Khalid Islam, and me – will bring a culture of strong oversight and effective management to the Board of Immunomedics," he added.
Jason Aryeh, vice chair of the board and due to become chair on June 30, 2017, has tried to pour oil on troubled investment waters by offering to step down.
"The new board of directors of Immunomedics deeply values the input of its stockholders," said Aryeh. "I believe the recently announced licensing agreement for IMMU-132 with Seattle Genetics is a profound stockholder achievement and I am very proud to have been a part of it. I would be happy to step aside from the board in order to facilitate a settlement with VenBio that would stop the use of stockholder capital on the ongoing legal and proxy-related expenditures."
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