Carl Icahn’s top health-care investing executive, Alex Denner, has resigned from the billionaire’s firm, said a person with knowledge of the decision. Denner was said to be planning his own hedge fund.
The 42-year-old investor, who joined Icahn Enterprises LP in 2006, was senior managing director. Icahn, 75, declined to comment in a telephone call yesterday.
In September, two people said Denner was considering breaking away to open his fund by the end of the year. The person familiar with the decision yesterday declined to be identified because the information is private.
Denner has helped Icahn shuffle management teams and drive restructurings for at least six biotechnology companies. Denner was part of Icahn’s team as the hedge fund took stakes in Genzyme Corp. before its $20.1 billion sale to Paris-based Sanofi and MedImmune LLC prior to its $15.2 billion acquisition by AstraZeneca Plc, based in London.
Denner is at least the second Icahn Enterprises executive to depart since August 2010. Keith Meister, who was vice chairman and principal executive officer, left then to start his own hedge fund, Corvex Management LP in New York.
Earlier this year, Icahn locked in another officer, Vincent Intrieri, with a $6.5 million salary and the threat of having to repay $600,000 if he holds talks with a rival hedge fund or tries to start one.
Thinking About a Fund
“I can’t stand in their way,” Icahn said in an interview at the time. “But I want to know the employee is not going to spend half his time thinking about how he can start his own hedge fund.”
Denner is chairman of Enzon Pharmaceuticals Inc., in Piscataway, New Jersey, and a director of Weston, Massachusetts-based Biogen Idec Inc. and San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.
He gained his board seat at Biogen, the world’s biggest maker of multiple-sclerosis medicines, in 2009, one of two Icahn won in a proxy battle that year. He’s since helped install a third Icahn-associated director, oversee the appointment of Chief Executive Officer George Scangos and narrow the company’s research focus in a restructuring that cut 650 jobs.
Denner served on the board of New York-based ImClone Systems Inc. from 2006 until its 2008 sale to Indianapolis drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. for $6.5 billion. Icahn was chairman at ImClone during this time.
Icahn’s health-care enterprises haven’t always found success. The investor expressed interest in buying Biogen in 2007 for $23 billion and, after the company put itself up for sale in October of that year, withdrew his bid. He waged a proxy fight in 2008 before gaining representation the next year.
An Icahn team led by Denner failed in August to gain representation on the board of Forest Laboratories after the company proposed three new directors of its own. Denner said at the time he believed Forest “made some positive governance changes because of our involvement.”
Before joining Icahn, Denner was a portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley and hedge fund Viking Global Investors LP in New York. He holds an undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and a Ph.D. from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.