QLT shares rise after activist prevails in vote

Wed Jun 6, 2012 7:14am EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

(Reuters) - Shares of QLT Inc rose more than 5 percent on Tuesday, a day after an activist investor's nominees for the board prevailed in a shareholder vote, signaling a shakeup at the Canadian drug development company.

Six of the seven directors elected at the company's annual general meeting on Monday were nominated by NB Public Equity Komplementar ApS, a Danish investment fund with a 15.2 percent stake in QLT. NB is the company's second-biggest shareholder.

The fund, which invests mostly in biopharmaceutical companies, said in the filing in May that it thought a change was needed on the board, without being specific. All six NB nominees were elected.

Among those ousted from the board was Bob Butchofsky, who remains the company's chief executive. QLT put up a full slate of seven nominees.

C. Boyd Clarke, the incumbent chairman, was replaced by Jason Aryeh, founder and general partner of Jalaa Equities, a hedge fund focused on the biotechnology and specialty pharmaceutical sector.

In an interview on Tuesday, Aryeh said he was open to new business partnerships and asset sales, and that he favors a share buyback and instituting a dividend and other tax-free capital returns to shareholders.

He said Butchofsky's future with the company will ultimately be determined by the board.

"In a public company, every asset including the company is always for sale," Aryeh said. "I think that any good board working collaboratively with its management team needs to always be receptive to any strategic opportunity and that's in-licensing, out-licensing, buying, selling."   Continued...