Illumina shareholders vote chairman out after Icahn fight
Illumina investors voted chairman John Thompson off the board of directors on Thursday as Carl Icahn's months-long battle against the $32 billion gene-sequencing equipment maker crossed the finish line at the company's annual meeting.
Why it matters: Icahn's proxy fight has pushed a seasoned business leader off the board of a company seeking to improve cancer care and detection options, and elected a financier lacking relevant sector experience.
Details: Preliminary votes show that shareholders elected eight of nine Illumina nominees. Icahn nominee Andrew Teno received a majority of the votes to replace John Thompson on the board. Thompson will step down from the board, and his role as chairman.
- "The Board thanks John Thompson for his board tenure and extraordinary leadership," the company said in a statement.
- Thompson is the former chairman of Microsoft and a current director on the company's board. He's also the former CEO of Symantec.
- Illumina's CEO Francis de Souza and director Robert Epstein. defeated Icahn's two other nominees, and will remain on the board, the early results show.
Be smart: Knocking out the current chair is a big win, but Icahn did not get all he wanted. He nominated for three seats, and has received one, according to preliminary results.
- Illumina gave a nod to Teno in its release on Thursday.
- "We would like to welcome Andrew Teno, a portfolio manager at Icahn Capital LP, to the Board and look forward to productive and collaborative engagement," Illumina said.
Catch up quick: Icahn, who owns 1.4% of Illumina, has been pushing the company to unwind its acquisition of cancer detection test maker Grail.
- Illumina's market value has dropped by more than 50% since closing the Grail deal. Antitrust regulators in both the U.S. and Europe have opposed the acquisition, citing competition concerns.
- Icahn wants the company to focus on its core DNA sequencing business.
Details: Icahn nominated three of his employees to serve as Illumina directors. The company previously offered to add one of them to the nine-member board, but Icahn turned down the offer early in the spring.
- So, after months of money and energy spent on the fight, Icahn failed to gain more than the original seat that was offered.
What we're watching: Whether Teno gains influence on the board and whether he and his boss' thesis of unwinding the Grail deal ends up being a reality.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to add in the company's statement.