Icahn nominates new directors to Forest Labs board

NEW YORK (AP) -- Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is proposing a new slate of directors to the board of drugmaker Forest Laboratories Inc.

In a form filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Icahn said he will nominate an undisclosed number of candidates to the board of directors, including former Merrill Lynch biotechnology analyst Eric Ende.

Icahn had nominated Ende and three other candidates for places on the board in 2011, but shareholders rejected those candidates in favor of the directors backed by Forest.

The Icahn Capital Partners founder owns 26.4 million shares of Forest, or a 9.9-percent stake in the New York company. Icahn is the second-largest holder of Forest shares.

Forest Laboratories said its new drugs are selling well, and it is optimistic about its prospects. The drugmaker said it is "puzzled" that Icahn is proposing another proxy contest and said it will evaluate Icahn's nominees when he identifies them.

Forest lost patent protection for its antidepressant Lexapro earlier this year, and within a few years it will lose patent exclusivity for its other big seller, the Alzheimer's disease drug Namenda. In 2011 it launched three new drugs: the anti-infection drug Teflaro, the lung disease drug Daliresp and the depression treatment Viibryd.

In 2011, Icahn criticized the company for a variety of issues including underwhelming stock performance and management concerns. He is known as an activist investor who often tries to shake up companies after buying their stock.

There are 10 directors on the company's board, including Chairman and CEO Howard Solomon. Forest directors are elected to one-year terms.

Shares of Forest rose 5 cents to $33.66 Wednesday. The stock reached an annual low of $28.47 in December and has since risen 18 percent. However shares traded as high as $40.52 after Icahn made his previous nominations.