Icahn biotech whiz Denner jumps ship after 5 turbulent years

Carl Icahn's right hand man in the biotech sphere, Alex Denner, has turned in his walking papers. He has resigned from Icahn Enterprises, according to Bloomberg, after five years of boardroom coups and corporate restructurings, helping earning a fortune for his boss along the way. Icahn declined to comment about the exit, but Denner's departure is widely seen as another blow to the aging dealmaker, who recently lost his vice chairman.

Denner played a big role in Icahn's activist strategy for the biotech industry. He helped wrest control of Biogen Idec ($BIIB) from Jim Mullen--winning a seat on the Biogen board as part of Icahn's corporate coup--and played a big role in recruiting George Scangos to the job. He was part of the Icahn gang that tried to gain control of Genzyme, a move which ultimately led to Sanofi's ($SNY) $20 billion acquisition. Denner helped put the moves on MedImmune ahead of AstraZeneca's ($AZN) buyout. He was on the Forest Labs team, which has so far been stiff armed by management. He's also chairman of Enzon ($ENZN), which has been restructuring under his guidance, and sits on the board at Amylin.

Denner wouldn't tell Reuters exactly what he had planned, but he wouldn't surprise anyone by setting up his own hedge fund. After learning at the foot of the master how to profit from biotech, Denner may not be through with the drug development industry just yet. But he also may not be leaving with Icahn's blessing.

"I can't stand in their way," Icahn told Bloomberg about his top staffers earlier in the year. "But I want to know the employee is not going to spend half his time thinking about how he can start his own hedge fund."

- check out the Bloomberg report
- read the Reuters story