Vivus Inc. (VVUS)’s third-largest shareholder, QVT Financial LP, plans to vote for the nine-member slate proposed by dissident investor First Manhattan Co., according to two people familiar with the matter.
QVT’s view is that change is necessary at Vivus, the maker of the obesity drug Qsymia, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the voting plans are private. QVT owns 8.35 million shares, or 8.3 percent, of Mountain View, California-based Vivus, whose annual meeting is July 15.
A telephone call placed to QVT’s office seeking comment on its plans wasn’t answered. The investor said in a November regulatory filing that it met with Vivus Chief Executive Officer Leland Wilson and advocated a sale of the company because of concerns that Vivus wasn’t effectively marketing Qsymia. The drug, approved in July 2012, drew $4.1 million in first-quarter revenue, missing analysts’ estimates.
First Manhattan received the backing of proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services earlier this month for three of its nine proposed directors. Vivus’s largest shareholder with 9.9 percent of the outstanding stock, First Manhattan has criticized how Vivus brought Qsymia to market and advocated replacing the CEO.
Vivus gained 5.2 percent to $14.24 at 4 p.m. New York time. The shares have declined 48 percent in the last 12 months.
The drugmaker urged investors to vote for its slate today in a statement, saying the board and management team are “successfully executing a plan to unlock the full potential of Qsymia and maximize stockholder value.” The company said it’s working to expand access to Qsymia and talking with large pharmaceutical companies to help market the drug.
First Manhattan said in a letter today that it’s received support “from large and small shareholders alike,” and encouraged investors to vote for its proposed directors.
“Our nominees have constructed a clear and concise strategic plan for the future of Vivus,” Sam Colin, senior managing director at First Manhattan, said in the letter. “It addresses the serious missteps of the sitting board and lays out a path for the successful launch of Qsymia.”
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