Home Finance Illumina CEO DeSouza Resigns Following Pressure From Icahn

Illumina CEO DeSouza Resigns Following Pressure From Icahn

by CoinNews

(Bloomberg) — Illumina Inc.’s board accepted the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Francis deSouza, handing a victory to activist investor Carl Icahn who had been seeking his removal.

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DeSouza had initially survived the activist’s attack when he was one of eight directors re-elected to the DNA-sequencing company’s board last month. But Illumina’s shareholders also elected Andrew Teno, a portfolio manager at Icahn Capital, to the board at the May 25 meeting.

“After 10 life-changing years, I have decided that it’s time for me to hand over the reins,” deSouza wrote in a letter to employees posted on his LinkedIn page. “Leaving you will be a loss, deeply felt. That said, I leave with a sense of fulfillment and pride at where, together, we have taken the company.”

Charles Dadswell, senior vice president and general counsel, was named interim CEO while the San Diego-based company embarks on a search for a replacement, according to a statement Sunday. DeSouza, who joined the company in 2013 and has been CEO since 2016, will remain in an advisory capacity until July 31.

Icahn began pushing for board seats in March, criticizing the board and management for selling and then later buying back cancer-detection firm Grail Inc. at a higher price. He also blasted the company for going ahead with that transaction despite opposition from European regulators.

Read more: Illumina, Icahn Fight Intensifies After Negotiation Failed

Icahn has faced his own activist challenges in recent weeks, targeted by Hindenburg Research, which said in a report that the value of his investment firm was inflated and questioned its dividend payouts. He hit back on the report by calling it self-serving.

Icahn Enterprises also reported that it had been contacted by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York seeking information on some of its units.

(Updates with context on proxy fight starting in second paragraph.)

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