Angry Icagen backers fire a salvo against Pfizer's $50M buyout

Two big investors behind Icagen are none too happy about Pfizer's deal to snap up a majority of the biotech's shares for $6 each. Longtime venture investor New Leaf Venture Partners joined with Merlin Nexus to complain about Pfizer's $50 million deal for all outstanding shares. The two groups say that Icagen should be worth up to three times that amount.

"We believe the purchase price dramatically undervalues Icagen's assets, and is not in the best interests of all stockholders," they wrote in a letter to the Icagen board, which was filed with the SEC. "We believe that the Board should have sought a greater valuation for Icagen and at the present time we do not intend to tender our shares under the current acquisition terms. We continue to explore our options, including potentially contacting other stockholders to share our concerns."

Together New Leaf and Merlin Nexus own 12.7% of the Durham, NC-based biotech. Pfizer has lined up support for the deal with another venture investor, Venrock, bringing a combined 17.7% of the shares to the table in support of the deal. Pfizer tipped its hat about its interest in Icagen back in June, driving the share price from $2.40 to past $8 on speculation about a deal. Investors who got in on the high end felt distinctly shortchanged by the takeover price. 

New Leaf and Merlin Nexus are likely to ally with other investors recruited by a bevy of law firms which started to circle the deal table within hours of the announced buyout. With enough opposition they could spur a rival buyout offer, triggering a potential bidding war.

- here's the story from the News & Observer