Carl Icahn
Carl Icahn

Gladstone Place Partners is working for San Diego-based biotech Illumina Inc. as it battles activist investor Carl Icahn, who has nominated three directors to its board of directors.

In his open letter to shareholders, Icahn expressed his opposition to Illumina's $7.1B acquisition of cancer testing company Grail, which it had developed and then spun off in 2017.

He claims $50 billion of value has been wiped from the company’s market capitalization since the closing of the deal.

Icahn wrote: “This value destruction is a direct result of a series of ill-advised (and frankly inexplicable) actions taken by the board of directors of our company in connection with the acquisition of GRAIL, Inc. To paraphrase William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, something is rotten in the state of Illumina.”

The company counters that Icahn’s nominees lack relevant skills and experience.

Illumina CEO Francis deSouza and independent chair John Thompson had multiple conversations with Icahn.

They found him “explicit and unyielding in his demand that any resolution should give him outsized influence and control.”

Gladstone Place CEO Steve Lipin handles Illumina.