Icahn Gets Okay to Purchase Biogen Idec Shares

Biogen Idec shares (NASDAQ: BIIB) hit a one-year high yesterday after billionaire investor and occasional corporate raider Carl Icahn was cleared by U.S. antitrust authorities to buy shares in the corporation.

The stock closed Friday at $62.89, up $2.92 (nearly 5 percent) for the day. The news came barely a week after Icahn revealed he had already purchased nearly one percent of Biogen shares. Marketwatch has a good summary of the regulatory news and some background about Icahn.

Icahn likes to call himself an “activist investor.” The big question, of course, is how active is he planning to be with Biogen. In the past, he has purchased stakes in companies he believes are undervalued and then pushed management to take actions designed to increase the firm’s value. Such actions have included a sale of the company.

According to the MarketWatch report, the antitrust clearance, posted Friday by the Federal Trade Commission, “did not specify the type or size of the transaction that Icahn’s group is interested in pursuing.” As of Friday afternoon, it noted, “Icahn’s various corporate entities had made no new filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission in regard to Biogen stock.”

Whatever Icahn’s intentions with Biogen, forcing a sale of the company against management intentions will likely be more difficult than it would have only a few months ago. In late June, Biogen completed a big stock buyback program that saw it shell out some $3 billion to buy back more than 56 million of its own shares.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and chairman. You can email him at bbuderi@xconomy.com. Follow @bbuderi

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