Management at Actelion is again under pressure from disgruntled stockholder Elliott Advisors after the hedge fund announced a proposed new board for the Swiss biotech, headed by some heavyweight pharmaceutical executives.

Elliott, which has a near-6% holding, has been increasing its calls for the resignation of chief executive Jean-Paul Clozel and chairman Robert Cawthorn and repeatedly asked the Allschwil-based group to explore a future sale. Actelion has continued to speak about the merits of independence and a showdown at the annual general meeting on May 5 looks to be on the cards.

The slate of candidates proposed by Elliott is headed by James Shannon, a former global head of pharma development at Novartis. The other candidates include Elmar Schnee, who recently stepped down as president of Merck Serono and ex-Celltech executive Peter Allen.

Elliott said that "we have been clear from the beginning that we have deep concerns about the company's current ‘wait and see’ strategy". It claims that by adding these independent directors to strengthen the board, "we are confident that the right debate will happen to de-risk the company for all stakeholders, including employees, through the rigorous analysis of the options facing it".

Actelion has yet to make a formal response but it has been reported that it has hired Goldman Sachs and a US law firm to help defeat Elliott.