May 31, 2016 / 1:37 PM / a year ago

Carl Icahn acquires 'large position' in Allergan, backs CEO

3 Min Read

Billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn gives an interview on FOX Business Network's Neil Cavuto show in New York February 11, 2014.Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said on Tuesday he had acquired a "large position" in Botox-maker Allergan Plc (AGN.N) and that he was very supportive of Chief Executive Officer Brent Saunders.

Shares of Allergan rose 0.8 percent to $237.85 in mid-morning trading.

Icahn, who did not disclose details of the stake, said in a statement on his website that he was confident in Saunders' ability to enhance value for all Allergan shareholders. (bit.ly/1UatnIM)

Allergan has "no reason to believe that this investment was made for purposes of influencing the actions of management or control of the company," spokesman Mark Marmur said in an emailed statement.

Saunders has come close to Icahn before. Saunders became CEO of Allergan after it was bought by Actavis, where he had been CEO, and then changed its name. Saunders had moved into the top spot at Actavis from the CEO job at Forest Labs, which Actavis acquired.

Icahn had a Forest Labs stake and was agitating for change when the company's long-time management ceded control and Saunders took the CEO job in 2013. Icahn said he sold the Forest position when the company changed hands.

Allergan is near to closing the sale of its generic business to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA). Once that happens, Saunders has said the company will be able to make acquisitions of more than $1 billion. Allergan needs to pay off more debt before it will make even bigger deals, he has said.

The move comes a few months after Allergan's plans to be bought by Pfizer (PFE.N) fell apart. In that so-called "inversion" deal, Pfizer would have moved its headquarter to Dublin, where Allergan is based, in order to lower the taxes it pays in the United States.

Icahn, who launched a $150 million political action committee advocating tax reform to eliminate such deals, had said the Pfizer-Allergan tie-up would result in the loss of the country's 10th largest company to Ireland.

The government effectively blocked that deal by issuing new tax rules that made it less favorable.

Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York and Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Alan Crosby

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