May 25, 2023
Icahn Wins One Board Seat in Illumina Proxy Fight
(Bloomberg) -- Illumina Inc. shareholders voted to elect a board member nominated by activist shareholder Carl Icahn, a much-needed partial victory for the billionaire as his investment firm grapples with an attack by short-seller Hindenburg Research.
Andrew Teno, a portfolio manager at Icahn Capital, will join Illumina’s nine-person board as a director, the company said in a statement Thursday. Teno, one of Icahn’s three nominees, replaces Chairman John Thompson, who had been on Illumina’s board since 2021.
The other eight directors were re-elected to the board, the statement showed. That includes Illumina Chief Executive Officer Francis deSouza, whom Icahn had sought to oust from the board.
“We would like to welcome Andrew Teno, a portfolio manager at Icahn Capital LP, to the board and look forward to productive and collaborative engagement,” Illumina said in a statement. “We appreciate the constructive shareholder feedback throughout this process and are committed to delivering on our plan to accelerate shareholder value creation.”
Icahn’s Own Battle
Teno’s appointment comes as Icahn Enterprises LP is being targeted by Hindenburg Research, which said in a report this month that the value of the investment firm was inflated and questioned its dividend payouts, a move that Icahn had used on many companies throughout his activism career.
The report sent Icahn Enterprises shares down more than 50% within weeks costing Icahn $15 billion in his net worth on paper.
The octogenarian had hit back on the report by calling it self serving. In an interview with Bloomberg News this month, he declined to address Hindenburg and its report directly and said he had other things on his mind including the Illumina proxy battle.
Read more: Carl Icahn Is $15 Billion Poorer After Hunter Becomes the Hunted (1)
Icahn Enterprises also reported that it had been contacted this month by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York seeking information on some of its units.
Icahn began pushing for board seats at Illumina in March, criticizing the DNA-sequencing company’s board and management for selling and then later buying back cancer-detection firm Grail Inc. at a higher price. He also blasted the company for going ahead with that transaction despite opposition from European regulators.
Teno was one of Icahn’s three nominees to the Illumina board, alongside Vincent Intrieri, founder of VDA Capital management, and Jesse Lynn, general counsel of Icahn Enterprises.
Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services had recommended that investors support Teno and withhold support for Thompson, while Glass Lewis & Co. recommended two of Icahn’s nominees.
A proxy statement had revealed that Illumina and Icahn had discussed a settlement that would grant the activist shareholder one board seat while allowing him input on the selection of two additional board members, expanding the board to 11 people. The talks faltered after Icahn asked for the appointment of his two nominees with one independent director.
Teno is also a director on the boards of Crown Holdings Inc. and Southwest Gas Holdings Inc.
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