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Icahn's (Potential) Move Into Biotech

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn's Icahn Enterprises LP (NASDAQ: IEP) announced last Wednesday the hiring of pharma academician Richard Mulligan as a portfolio manager. The announcement has set tongues wagging about Carl Icahn's renewed interest in the pharma/biotech sector.

In a release distributed via the Global Newswire, Icahn Enterprises said, in part: "Mulligan is currently the Mallinckrodt Professor of Genetics, Emeritus, at Harvard Medical School, and Visiting Scientist at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. Previously, Professor Mulligan was the Mallinckrodt Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Harvard Gene Therapy Initiative, an integrated effort amongst basic science and clinical investigators at Harvard University and its Affiliated Hospitals directed towards the pre-clinical and clinical evaluation of novel gene-based therapies for inherited and acquired diseases."

Mulligan's Credentials

Mulligan graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, and received his doctoral degree from the Stanford University, School of Medicine. He returned to the MIT to do his postdoctoral training at the Center for Cancer Research. Subsequently, Mulligan took up faculty position at MIT and later moved to Harvard and then to Children's Hospital. He is also the recipient of several awards and accolades.

Mulligan's tryst with Wall Street commenced when he was drafted into the boards of several pharma and biotech companies or appointed as their consultant. He has also served on an FDA Committee. In 2013, Mulligan founded Sarissa Capital Management.

Icahn's Way With Public Companies

Historically, Icahn has had run-ins with pharma and biotech companies, as he identifies companies mired in controversies or are plagued by fundamental problems. He then builds up stake in these companies and clamors for board representation. Icahn would either force these companies to adopt strategies he deems as fit or seek board representation, through which he can accomplish what he has set out for. In some cases, the corporate raider would force the companies to sell themselves.

Related Link: Carl Icahn's Track Record In Big Pharma

Icahn's Holdings Based on Q4 13-F Filings

Icahn's recent holdings revealed through 13-F filings for the quarter ended December 31, 2016, show that it is thin on pharma/biotech stocks. His holding in Allergan plc Ordinary Shares (NYSE: AGN) formed just 3.9 percent of his portfolio.

Reports of Icahn picking up a substantial stake in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY) emerged only recently.

Source: Seeking Alpha

In 2015 and in 2014, Icahn had a stake in Enzon Pharmaceuticals Inc (OTC: ENZN) and in the year earlier, he had stakes in Enzon and Forest Laboratories, Inc.(NYSE: FRX). Meanwhile, in 2010, Icahn's holdings in the healthcare sector included Genzyme, which has since then become a part of Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE: SNY), Biogen Inc (NASDAQ: BIIB), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: REGN), Forest Labs, Enzon and Exelixis, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXEL).

With Mulligan in his fold, Icahn might once again be aiming to go full throttle on the pharma/biotech space. Pharma/biotech companies beware, this activist investor could come raiding you.

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