By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Michael Erman
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services on Friday recommended that shareholders of drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co vote in favour of its proposed $74 billion (56.82 billion pounds) takeover of rival Celgene Corp.
Bristol-Myers’ second largest shareholder, Wellington Management, and activist investor Starboard Value LP have opposed the deal, calling it “poorly conceived and ill-advised.”
“The proposed transaction has sound strategic rationale and the valuation appears reasonable,” ISS said in its report.
The ISS recommendation is a victory for the company and significantly increases the chances that many big mutual funds will back the deal. ISS’ opinions are sent to roughly 1,400 investors, and they are thought to influence many of their decisions.
Bristol announced in early January that it planned to buy Celgene in a cash and stock transaction valued at roughly $74 billion that would bring together companies that specialise in oncology and cardiovascular drugs in what would be the largest pharmaceutical industry merger ever.
If the deal is approved, Bristol-Myers shareholders will own 69 percent of the company and Celgene shareholders would own the remainder.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst and Michael Erman; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)