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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Bosses resign at battered Elan
web grab
Elan will cut costs and sell assets
Irish drugs company Elan, which has been hit by a series of scandals this year, has lost its two top executives and started to examine ways of raising extra cash.


People have said... that accounting has been aggressive, but it's been within legal bounds

Garo Armen
Elan chairman
Donal Geaney resigned as chairman and chief executive, and Thomas Lynch resigned as deputy chairman, just hours before the two had been due to meet with investors to discuss Elan's $4.5bn debts.

Mr Geaney and Mr Lynch also left the company's board.

The firm later said it was aiming to shore up its balance sheet and improve transparency, and once again stressed it was not facing a cash crunch.

Elan faces a debt repayment of close to $1bn in December 2003, and is now looking to raise that amount via the sale of businesses and other assets.

Accounting concerns

Elan has suffered a series of confidence-damaging scandals in recent months, including the messy failure of drug trials and accusations of accounting irregularities.

The descent of Elan shares, which have slipped 96% this year, accelerated last week after its 2001 annual report raised new questions about its accounting methods and raised fears that the company might run out of cash.

Elan's newly installed chairman Garo Armen
Armen: "Certainly, there are no improprieties"
New leadership at Elan tried to allay those concerns on Tuesday.

"There are no accounting irregularities, as speculated, that have to come our attention," interim chairman Garo Armen told BBC's World Business Report.

"People have said - and they're probably correct - that accounting has been aggressive," he said. "But it's been within legal bounds."

Mr Armen currently serves as chairman and chief executive at Antigenics, a Manhattan-based biopharmaceutical firm.

Restructuring

Mr Armen will be faced with the tasks of cutting costs and selling assets to strengthen the company's finances and to refocus the group on its core clinical development business.

He told the BBC the firm will begin searching for a new chief executive.

Last month, Elan said it would restructure its business following a slump in its share price caused by investor concern about its accounting practices.

But last week Elan's shares plunged again when it announced it had sold rights to royalties from its most profitable products, effectively sacrificing revenue for immediate cash.

The US stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has investigated Elan's accounts since February.

See also:

10 Jun 02 | Business
08 Feb 02 | Business
05 Feb 02 | Business
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