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In War for Amylin, Insurgents Gain Ground in Final Days Before Vote

We're into the home stretch of the Amylin proxy fight, in which Carl Icahn and Eastbourne Capital are trying to persuade shareholders to let them take control of Amylin's board, and the company is resisting.

So who's winning? Until a few days ago, it looked like Amylin. But the insurgents appear to have won a few arguments in the final days before the May 27 vote.

A week ago, Amylin caught Eastbourne stretching the truth regarding whether it wants the company sold at $20 a share. (Eastbourne accused Amylin of spreading this false rumor, but Amylin produced a director to cite a date and conversation in which she'd heard Eastbourne's rep recommend exactly that. Snap!)

That little victory came after a slideshow battle which revealed that Amylin is much better at Powerpoint than either Eastbourne and Icahn, and that the company is more focused on the exenatide once weekly launch than slinging insults.

Prior to that, Amylin also managed to reveal that Icahn didn't know the name of the CEO whose company he's trying to control; and it emerged unscathed from Delaware Chancery Court on the issue of its "poison put" suicide pill that will trigger a $900 million debt repayment if the insurgents win.

But since then, Eastbourne and Icahn have wooed four proxy voting advisory firms to their cause: Glass Lewis & Co, Proxy Governance Inc., Egan Jones and RiskMetrics. All want to see fresh blood on the board (and on the floor, judging by the rhetoric flying back and forth).

And Amylin also managed to sew some confusion as to how it intends to handle the Byetta brand if it wins approval for exenatide once weekly, the drug formerly known as Byetta LAR.

Feeling like it has the upper hand, Eastbourne tried to force Amylin to give up, in a letter on May 18:

I believe you could, if you choose, bring this contest to an amicable conclusion by coming to an understanding with Eastbourne and Mr. Icahn to offer shareholders the opportunity to support a unified slate ...
(All that was missing from the letter was the part that says: "Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy ... I am your father. Search your feelings, you know it to be true!")

Yesterday Amylin responded:

After significant efforts and consultation with numerous shareholders, Amylin has been unable to achieve a settlement with Eastbourne and Carl Icahn which is in the best interests of ALL shareholders.
To the death, in other words.
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