Dr. Roderick Wong has withdrawn his slate of director nominees for election at Facet Biotech Corporation’s (NASDAQ:FACT) 2009 annual meeting of stockholders. Wong’s withdrawal means that our investment thesis is gone, and we’re closing the position.
We opened the position at $9.13 and closed it at $8.96, which means we’re down 1.86% on an absolute basis. The S&P500 Index closed at 850.08 on the day we opened the position and closed yesterday at 919.53, which means we’re off 10% on a relative basis.
FACT was a new category of investment for us: special situations (see our post archive here). It was an activist play with a catalyst in the form of Dr. Roderick Wong’s nomination for the annual meeting of an alternative slate of directors, including well-known activist investor Robert. L. Chapman. The dissident slate called for a cash dividend of up to $15 per share and demanded the sale of the other non-cash assets, estimating they may be worth an additional $8 to $16 per share, which represented a substantial upside at FACT’s $9.13 closing price (equivalent to a market capitalization of $216.8M) at the time we opened the position. We estimated the liquidation value to be anywhere from nil to $259M or ~$10.85 per share and the net cash value from nil to $228M or $10.54 per share, so it wasn’t a typical liquidation play for us. The company was burning through its cash at a rapid rate, so the main risk to the investment was that the status quo was maintained. Although Wong et al held only 0.5% of FACT’s outstanding stock, we thought the presence of Bob Chapman and other noted activist and deep value investors on the register (Baupost Group holds ~18%) indicated a good chance of success for the dissidents.
The position started falling apart when Chapman and Broenniman withdrew their consents:
In March 2009, Facet Biotech Corporation (the “Company”) received a notice of intention to nominate five candidates for election to the Company’s five-person Board of Directors at the Company’s 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the “Annual Meeting”). Sent by Roderick Wong, the notice stated the intent to nominate Philip R. Broenniman, Robert L. Chapman, Jr., David Gale, Bradd Gold and Roderick Wong, for election to the Company’s Board of Directors. On April 30, 2009, Philip R. Broenniman and Robert L. Chapman, Jr. each separately notified the Company in writing that they were withdrawing their consent to being named as nominees for election to the Company’s Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting.
And the death knell was Wong withdrawing the entire slate:
RODERICK WONG WITHDRAWS DIRECTOR NOMINATIONS
Redwood City, Calif., May 4, 2009 — Facet Biotech Corporation (Nasdaq: FACT) and Roderick Wong, M.D., today jointly announced that based on productive discussions between Facet and Dr. Wong, Dr. Wong has withdrawn his slate of director nominees for election at Facet’s 2009 annual meeting of stockholders and will not present, recommend or move for the election of any of the nominees he had submitted for election.
Faheem Hasnain, president and chief executive officer of Facet, said, “We thank Dr. Wong for raising important concerns held by some of Facet’s stockholders and advocating for these stockholders. Our Board values his insights regarding the future of the company and we look forward to an ongoing constructive dialogue with Dr. Wong.”
Dr. Wong said “I am pleased to have brought this situation to an amicable conclusion. Our discussions have focused on issues that are critical to Facet’s success and I appreciate the time and attention that the company has devoted to our discussions.”
Wong gives no indication in the press release what, if any, concessions were made by FACT to bring the situation to an “amicable conclusion.” There were no reasons given for Chapman and Broenniman’s withdrawl either. It could be that, without Chapman and Broenniman, Wong felt he didn’t have the support to roll the board and so sought a face-saving resolution with the company. We don’t know, but we welcome speculation in the comments.
[Full Disclosure: We do not have a holding in FACT. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]