Shares of Allergan (AGN) spiked Tuesday after activist investor Carl Icahn said he recently acquired “a large position” in the pharmaceutical giant.
Icahn praised Allergan CEO Brent Saunders for his past success in enhancing shareholder returns.
“We were instrumental in bringing Brent on board as the new CEO of Forest Labs a few years ago and worked cooperatively and constructively with him to help increase value for all Forest shareholders,” Icahn wrote on his website.
“Less than a year later Forest was acquired by Actavis (which subsequently merged with Allergan) resulting in massive gains for Forest shareholders. While we at that time disposed of our position in Forest, we still have always maintained great respect for Brent. We have every confidence in Brent’s ability to enhance value for all Allergan shareholders.”
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Saunders has been looking to move beyond Dublin-based Allergan’s scuttled megamerger with Pfizer (PFE)—a collapse that rippled across Wall Street and hit top banks like J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), Morgan Stanley (MS), and a smattering of hedge funds.
Mere hours after the companies declared the merger dead, Allergan struck a $3.3 billion licensing pact with U.K. drugmaker Heptares Therapeutics for its Alzheimer’s drug portfolio. The company also expects its $40.5 billion generic drugs franchise sale to Israel’s Teva (TEVA) to close in a matter of weeks, freeing up Allergan and Saunders to pursue even more acquisitions.
Icahn has long been vocal about his favored (and not-so-favored) firms, including his April announcement that he’d dumped all his shares of Apple (AAPL). Icahn Enterprises (IEP) has also recently taken a big bet that the stock market will crash.
Fortune has reached out to Icahn’s office to inquire about the the exact size of his Allergan stake and will update this post if it responds. Allergan shares rose as much as 3% in early trading following Icahn’s statement but are down 25% over the past six months.