After a bitter struggle for control of the company, Vivus and dissident shareholder First Manhattan Co seem to have buried the hatchet, with the latter winning control of the board.
FMC has been highly critical of the way Vivus management has handled the launch of the obesity drug Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate) which has suffered disappointing sales. The investment firm put forward nine board nominees and became embroiled in an increasingly ugly battle with Vivus management ahead of the firm's annual general meeting scheduled for earlier this week.
That was put back as threats and lawsuits flew and Simos Simeonidis, an analyst with Cowen & Co, described it as "one of the ugliest biotech proxy fights in recent memory". However, a settlement has finally been reached.
A reconstituted slate for the board is being put forward which will include six FMC nominees and four of Vivus' choices. Following expected shareholder approval, Tony Zook, former head of commercial operations at AstraZeneca, will take over as CEO from Leland Wilson.
FMC senior managing director Sam Colin, who has been vociferous in his criticism of Mr Wilson, praised the latter's "enormous accomplishments" and those of outgoing chief operating officer Peter Tam "in identifying and developing the most efficacious obesity drug ever". He said they had "stuck together through thick and thin over two decades surmounting scientific and financial challenges that would have flattened most organisations".
Mr Zook is now expected to begin the search to find a big pharma partner to maximise Qsymia’s potential.