September 9, 2014 / 8:59 PM / in 3 years

Ackman urges Allergan board to 'wake up' on Valeant talks

BOSTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - After months of staying largely silent on a deal he’s trying to broker, billionaire William Ackman criticized Allergan Inc ’s board of directors, urging them to “wake up” and at least listen to what potential purchaser Valeant Pharmaceuticals has to offer the Botox maker.

In a letter sent to Allergan’s nine directors, Ackman said “your actions have wasted corporate resources, delayed enormous potential value creation for shareholders, and are professionally and personally embarrassing for you.”

“The smell of strong brew is in the air, now is the time to wake up,” he wrote in the letter which was released in a regulatory filing.

It has been five months since Ackman, whose $15 billion Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund is Allergan’s largest investor, announced he is working with rival drug maker Valeant which wants to buy Allergan.

Despite sweetened terms from Valeant, Allergan has steadfastly refused to sell itself to its rival, sued the company and Ackman, and has tried to line up another potential partner.

Now with his three page-long letter dated September 9, the New York-based hedge fund manager seems to want to give this board one more chance to take action before a special meeting at the end of the year where he hopes to replace most of them with his own slate of directors.

He told them they can still “rescue” their reputation by taking over the leadership from CEO David Pyott, who is, in Ackman’s words trying to “stymie” a transaction.

Allergan, Ackman said, has “distinguished itself in running the most shareholder-unfriendly, hostile defense process perhaps in the history of corporate America.”

He listed what he considers Allergan’s missteps, underscoring that the recent departure of the chief financial officer, Jeff Edwards, at age 53 was particularly worrying. “The notion that Allergan should execute the largest acquisition in its history led by an investor relations executive is a frightening proposition,” he wrote.

Ackman is the latest in a string of activist hedge fund managers who are resorting to penning strongly worded letters to board members as they push for change. Daniel Loeb, who runs Third Point, made these types of letters famous with missives about Yahoo before he won board seats and played a critical role in picking a new CEO.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Andrew Hay

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