Location of Mylan shareholders meeting questioned
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Mylan Inc., under pressure from investors over its depressed stock price, will hold its annual shareholder meeting in New Jersey instead of Pittsburgh or Morgantown, where it has been held for years.
The Cecil generic drug maker has scheduled the meeting for April 25 at the Grand Summit Hotel in Summit, New Jersey.
Mylan has not publicly explained the reason for the switch, and officials did not return numerous telephone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
But speculation on the Yahoo! stock message board is that Mylan Chief Executive Officer Robert Coury is trying to duck the heat from shareholders.
"Why has this meeting been changed to N.J.? I live in Pittsburgh and it has always been so convenient to drive south a few miles for the meeting," one poster commented Monday to fellow shareholders. "Is Coury afraid we are going to lynch him here? (He should be!!)"
Shareholders have been vocal on the message board and at last year's annual meeting in July at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cecil about the sharp decline in Mylan's stock price. Recently, shares have been trading at near six-year lows, in the $11 to $12 range. A year ago, the stock was trading at around $21.
Companies generally hold annual meetings in their headquarters town or at the site of a major operation, to make it convenient for the largest number of shareholders, employees and retirees. It is not known how many Mylan directors, executives and other employees will be making the trip to New Jersey at the company's expense.
In recent years, Mylan's meetings have been well-attended, drawing several hundred shareholders or more from around the region. A spokesperson for the Grand Summit Hotel said yesterday it has been told to set up a meeting room for roughly 100 people.
Some consider shareholder meetings to be a waste of time. They usually are not attended by institutional investors like those who own about 80 percent of Mylan's stock. Those large investors often prefer to exert their influence behind the scenes rather than in a public forum such as the annual meeting.
However, Jean Helwege, associate professor of finance at Penn State's Smeal College of Business, said shareholder meetings serve a useful purpose by offering small investors a chance to discuss the company with its officers and directors, as well as their fellow shareholders.
"Companies are supposed to be beholden to shareholders but a lot of times shareholders have a small voice and it's hard to get companies to pay attention to them," she said. Annual meetings "are the only way for minority voices to be heard."
Relocating the Mylan meeting to New Jersey "doesn't make me too happy," Mylan shareholder Harry Marks of Oakdale said yesterday.
Mr. Marks, 82, who says he has attended most of the company's shareholder meetings in the 20 some years he has owned the stock, addressed Mr. Coury at last year's meeting, asking when he could expect Mylan's stock price to recover. At the time, shares were trading at around $16.
The choice of venue for this year's meeting, 30 minutes outside of New York City, could have broader significance.
Sources close to Mr. Coury said he had wanted to move Mylan's headquarters to New York. It is not known if such a move is currently under consideration. Mylan did not return phone calls or e-mails.
Mylan officials have not responded to any Post-Gazette inquiries since the newspaper published a story Dec. 21 concerning Chief Operating Officer Heather Bresch's academic credentials. The story questioned how West Virginia University officials went about awarding an M.B.A. degree to Ms. Bresch retroactively in October, even though official university records showed she did not earn it.
Ms. Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and a friend, former classmate and business associate of WVU President Michael Garrison, has said she received the degree in December 1998, but has declined to provide a transcript or other documentation.
An investigative panel made up of two WVU professors and three professors from other universities has been looking into the matter since January. They are expected to report their findings to WVU Provost Gerald Lang by the middle of this month.
First Published April 2, 2008 12:00 am