Caligan pushes ahead with board challenge at Anika, nominates two directors

·2 min read

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) -

Activist investor Caligan Partners has nominated two director candidates to Anika Therapeutics' seven member board, according to a regulatory filing on Monday, signaling plans to push ahead with a board challenge at the biotechnology company.

The investment firm, which owns a roughly 4% stake and is one of Anika's 10 biggest shareholders, named former Johnson & Johnson executive Gary Fischetti and former healthcare technology executive and experienced board member James Hogan as its candidates, according to the filing.

Anika board directors Susan Vogt and John Henneman will stand for re-election this year.

Caligan is urging the company to consider strategic alternatives including a full sale.

Investors will be asked to vote for directors at the annual meeting later this year unless the two sides reach a compromise.

Anika is best known for its viscosupplement portfolio, including Monovisc and Orthovisc, marketed by Johnson & Johnson . This month, the company reported a net loss of $14.9 million for 2022 and a net loss of $4.9 million for the fourth quarter last year. Revenue climbed 6% during the full year and was up 11% in the fourth quarter.

"We delivered strong operational and financial performance in the fourth quarter, building momentum for Anika's multi-year growth strategy," Anika CEO Cheryl Blanchard said on the earnings call.

Anika has a "healthy balance sheet and a robust and growing product portfolio, underpinning our confidence Anika is poised to accelerate growth and value creation," she added.

The stock price fell after earnings and traded at $28.16 on Monday, down 4.4% since the start of the year.

Caligan declined to comment. The investment firm specializes in healthcare investing and nominated a slate of directors in September 2019 at AMAG Pharmaceuticals where it settled for two board seats. Within a year of the settlement, AMAG had replaced its chief executive officer, rationalized operating expenses and was bought by Covis Pharma in late 2020. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Josie Kao)