We thought it was the end of the story when Arcturus Therapeutics and its ousted CEO Joseph Payne settled to end months of litigation and drop all claims against each other.
As part of the settlement, the company bid adieu to four board members—who, according to Payne, pushed him out—and appointed four new members to replace them. This new board, led by Chairman Peter Farrell, reinstated Payne in his old job as president and CEO of Arcturus and Pad Chivukula, who stepped down in February, as chief scientific officer and chief operating officer.
"I am extremely pleased to resume my role as President and CEO of Arcturus," Payne said in a statement Thursday. "With the litigation behind us, the team is 100% committed to developing our pipeline of novel RNA therapeutics, to strengthening and advancing all of our pharmaceutical partnerships and to creating value for our shareholders."
The legal tussle came to light in February when Arcturus' board announced it had voted to terminate Payne, with Mark Herbert, VP of business development, waiting in the wings to take over as interim CEO. Just over a week later, Chivukula resigned.
Payne had his attorneys pen a letter, which claimed the board—Stuart Collinson, then executive chairman, Craig Willett, Daniel Geffken and David Shapiro—excluded both him and Chivukula from “board discussions and votes" that led to his ouster. The letter claimed the directors did so in violation of Israeli Companies Law and demanded that Payne be reinstated.
A shareholder meeting slated for June 25 was called to consider a proposal from Arcturus to kick Payne off the board of directors, as well as a proxy challenge from Payne, which asked shareholders to replace the old board with a new one. With their settlement, Payne and the board moved their timeline up by a month.
Payne took action against Arcturus in Israel as the San Diego-based company backed its way onto the Nasdaq in September through a reverse merger with Israel-based Alcobra.
Arcturus' pipeline is based on a lipid-mediated delivery system and oligomer technology that it thinks will solve two challenges in RNA medicine: enabling systemic delivery to targeted tissues and boosting stability and potency while limiting toxicity.