Anyone looking for a close-up look at what Genzyme's Henri Termeer was looking to avoid when he struck a deal to amicably seat two of Carl Icahn's representatives on the board need only look at yesterday's brief annual meeting at Biogen Idec.
The Biogen board cheerfully welcomed a third ally of Icahn's during the meeting, which was conducted without James Mullen, who retired from his CEO's post on Tuesday. A year ago the Biogen meeting ended in turmoil, breaking up with no clear idea of just how Icahn's challenge had been met by investors. But he eventually ended up with two seats on the board, leaving Mullen a short-timer after failing to hold together all the institutional support he needed to fend off the Wall Street raider. One of Icahn's representatives, Alexander Denner, is on the search committee in charge of finding a new CEO.
Genzyme's board meeting is next week, and his deal with Icahn assures him of a consensus approach without all the drama that can be created by an Icahn-inspired investor rebellion. "We'd like to avoid the circus that would have occurred next week," Termeer told the Wall Street Journal.
Termeer's success owes a lot to Ralph Whitworth, the chief of Relational Investors who joined Genzyme's board two months ago. According to the Journal, he and Icahn hammered out a deal over the past few weeks that will help ensure that next week's board meeting comes off without any fireworks.