Carl Icahn’s success in capturing one seat of the four he sought on the Forest Laboratories board was a rather limited victory for the activist investor. Executives had offered him a seat once before, so success in replacing the chairman of the compensation committee should not necessarily be seen as an endorsement of an outsider agenda.
However, the proxy battle that has stretched over two years has pointed up the essential challenge for the New York group: bouncing back from 2012’s second-steepest patent cliff and the share value doldrums that have accompanied its approach (As patent storm peaks Lilly and Astra have furthest to fall, February 9, 2012). Mr Icahn has said he does not believe Forest is an immediate acquisition target, but in touting success in pushing for trade sales of Amylin and Genzyme he made his message clear on what he sees as the long-term promise of the company. Furthermore, the central question of who will succeed 84-year-old chief executive Howard Solomon has yet to be answered.