Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ), the Cambridge, MA-based biotech giant, has agreed to add Ralph Whitworth, the prominent San Diego activist investor, to its board of directors immediately, according to a report this evening on the Wall Street Journal’s website, which cited a person familiar with the matter. Adding Whitworth could make things more difficult for another activist shareholder, billionaire Carl Icahn, who is calling for significant change at Genzyme in the wake of its manufacturing troubles of the past year. Relational Investors, Whitworth’s firm, has a 4 percent stake in Genzyme.
Whitworth reached a “mutual cooperation” agreement with the company in January. That deal said he would support the biotech’s nominees for the board at the 2010 annual meeting scheduled for June 16, but if Whitworth wasn’t satisfied with the nominees, Genzyme would name him to the board in the fall. Whitworth, who is based in San Diego, talked about his goals for fixing things at Genzyme in this interview in January with my colleague in San Diego, Bruce Bigelow.
A Genzyme spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment late Wednesday night.
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