Aegerion reaches a cease-fire with its activist agitators

Aegerion CEO Marc Beer

Nearly two months after activist investor Sarissa Capital disclosed a major stake in Aegerion Pharmaceuticals ($AEGR), the biotech has signed an agreement giving Alex Denner's group some board representation in exchange for a reprieve from tension.

Under the deal, Aegerion has agreed to add a Sarissa-selected independent director, increasing its board from 7 to 8 members, and the fund will have the option of picking a 9th starting in 2016. In exchange, Sarissa has agreed to "certain standstill provisions," according to Aegerion, and promised to support all board-recommended nominees in the company's coming annual stockholder meeting.

Neither side is getting into further detail, but the agreement likely means any threat of a hostile takeover has been tabled, at least for now. And Marc Beer, the company's controversial CEO, is safe at the helm.

The issue arose in February when Denner and his compatriots disclosed that they had acquired roughly 5.8% of Aegerion, spending nearly $40 million for 1.6 million shares and expecting "to engage in discussions with the issuer regarding its investment in the shares."

Aegerion has been dogged by the poor performance of Juxtapid, a cholesterol-lowering drug that hasn't lived up to sales expectations since winning approval in 2012. Hoping to diversify its operation, Aegerion signed a deal last year to pay AstraZeneca ($AZN) $325 million up front for Myalept, an orphan drug recently approved to treat leptin deficiency in the small number of patients with congenital or acquired generalized lipodystrophy.

Whether those moves will be enough to brighten the future and please Sarissa remains to be seen, but Beer is confident his company has turned a corner.

"Aegerion has entered 2015 with good momentum in our business and we remain optimistic about our growth potential," the CEO said in a statement. "We are keenly focused on growing revenues, investing in geographic expansion and managing expenses, while continuing to explore opportunities for further clinical development of Juxtapid and Myalept."

Meanwhile, Denner, a former compatriot of Carl Icahn, is threatening to mount a proxy fight over at Ariad Pharmaceuticals ($ARIA), pushing for the removal of CEO Harvey Berger.

- read the statement

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