Activist Investor

Alex Denner - Activist Investor
Alex Denner

Dr. Alex John Denner

Alex Denner, Ph.D., has been investing in health-care companies for the past two decades. In 2013 he founded Sarissa Capital Management LP, an investment fund, to capitalize on the compelling opportunities for positive shareholder activism created by the unique dynamics of the health-care sector. Sarissa focuses on improving the strategies of health-care companies to enhance shareholder value.

It’s not uncommon to hear news stories using the term Activist Investor when referring to Alex Denner who has a long and successful history of orchestrating sales of biotech firms, like Waltham-based Bioverativ, and Ariad Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge.  Recently Denner is focusing on another local drugmaker: Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

Ironwood (Nasdaq: IRWD) said Monday that Sarissa Capital Management located at 660 Steamboat Road Greenwich, Connecticut informed the company that it plans to nominate Denner, its chief investment officer, to the drugmaker’s board of directors. Ironwood also stated they will consider the input of shareholders before its board makes a recommendation on the nomination.  Infact, the company touted its current nine-member board, saying that their interests were “directly aligned with shareholders.”

“Ironwood Pharmaceuticals maintains open and ongoing communications amongst its shareholders and welcomes new views and opinions that may advance Ironwoods goal of creating shareholder value,” the company said. “Members of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals management team had one introductory meeting with Sarissa Capital Management representatives prior to Sarissa notifying the company of their intention to nominate a director candidate. Ironwood remains open to continuing a constructive dialogue.”

Shares of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals which makes irritable bowel syndrome drug Linzess, jumped more than 10 percent on Monday, giving it a huge market valuation of $2.4 billion.

While a representative for Sarissa Capital Management didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, Dr. Alex Denner told CNBC in an interview on Monday that he hoped “to participate in discussions to maximize value for shareholders.”

“To the extent that they state in their press release that they’re concerned with what investors want, I’ve been told that more value has been created for Ironwood shareholders today than in any single day in history,” he told CNBC.