Exclusive: Top investors push Aegerion to oust CEO, consider sale - sources

Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:10pm EST
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By Olivia Oran

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Several of the top 10 investors in Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc AEGR.O are pushing the company to oust Chief Executive Marc Beer and consider selling itself after a year-long slump in its stock price, according to people familiar with the matter.

The shareholders have communicated to Aegerion's board their concerns over the drugmaker's weak share price and the credibility of Beer and his management team, the sources said this week, asking not to be named because the conversations are private.

Representatives for Aegerion declined to comment on the shareholder revolt, which is a latest blow for Beer, who was also mentioned in a high-profile divorce fight involving a Jefferies banker which became tabloid fodder last fall.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Aegerion, which make drugs for rare diseases, has seen its share price fall more than 67 percent in the last 12 months, following several quarters of missed earnings and a string of reduced forecasts for its cholesterol-lowering drug Juxtapid.

Shares of Aegerion rose nearly 10 percent to $23.97 on Wednesday on the news, giving it a market capitalization of more than $670 million. The stock traded as high as $68 in January 2014.

Calls for Beer's ouster present yet another challenge to the embattled CEO, who became embroiled in a messy divorce battle involving Jefferies Group LLC head healthcare banker Sage Kelly, who has since resigned. Kelly's wife alleged in divorce papers that Beer was part of a group of executives who partied with the banker using illegal drugs, according to press reports.

Beer and Kelly have both denied the allegations and Kelly's wife eventually rescinded some of a broad range of accusations after reaching a settlement with her husband.

The large shareholders believe Aegerion should consider selling itself to a larger pharmaceutical and biotech company such as Shire Plc (SHP.L: Quote), Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc (JAZZ.O: Quote), Amgen Inc (AMGN.O: Quote) or Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN.O: Quote), the sources said.   Continued...