Aegerion Stays Mum as Top Investors Push to Oust CEO, Consider Sale
Published: Jan 20, 2015
January 19, 2015
By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Sr. Editor
Embattled Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc refused again Friday to comment on a report that the firm’s top 10 investors are attempting to stage a coup against Chief Executive Marc Beer and will try to force a sale of the company after its stock hit rock bottom in 2014.
Reuters reported Wednesday that 10 unnamed shareholders have told Aegerion's board that because the company’s share price fell the most of any biotech last year, they want Beer replaced and a possible sale explored.
Beer also publicly embarrassed Aegerion by being named in a long-running divorce and drug accusation saga involving boutique investment bank Jefferies and Co.; becoming the target of an unrelated U.S. Food and Drug Administration probe into whether or not he had misled investigators about cholesterol drug Juxtapid; and finally, landing himself in hot water with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over "previously disclosed investigations by government authorities in Brazil into whether the company's activities in Brazil violated Brazilian anti-corruption laws."
Still, Aegerion is sticking by its guns, and reiterated Friday it wouldn’t comment one way or the other on the Reuters story—a sign the biotech may not necessarily be 100 percent behind its CEO, but is not ready to announce a transition in the C-level suite.
“We don't plan to comment on the article as it's our policy not to comment on rumors or speculation such as this," said Amanda Murphy, Aegerion's manager of investor and public relations, in an emailed statement to reporters.
Beer was among a group of executives accused by a woman, Christina Kelly, of rampant drug use and sexual escapades within the health care and biotech investment group at Jefferies.
Christina Kelly made the allegations during vicious divorce proceedings from Jefferies investment banker Sage Kelly, accusing him of indulging in “alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, Special-K, heroin” as well as other drugs like ecstasy.
The filing also dragged the firm itself into the accusations, saying Kelly was once “so drunk at the annual party that he hosts for members of his department at Jefferies & Company that he began to urinate”—and it included a list of Jefferies employees with whom both Kellys had used illegal drugs.
The story took another bizarre twist in October, when Jefferies chief executive, frustrated by the allegations of drug use at the unit, spontaneously volunteered the group for drug tests.
“We went to our partners in health care investment banking yesterday afternoon and said, ‘The two of us are going to go take a drug test, and do you want to join us?’” recounted CEO Richard Handler in a memo sent to clients Oct. 31. They did and none reportedly tested positive.
Once a settlement was reached, Kelly eventually apologized to the bank and her soon-to-be ex-husband, though she did not specify which part of her story she considered false.