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Proxy advisory firm supports Sarissa Capital's nominees for Innoviva board

Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. will support two of Sarissa Capital Management LP's three nominees to the board of Innoviva Inc. at the biopharmaceutical company's stockholders meeting to be held April 20.

Glass Lewis recommended that Innoviva shareholders vote on behalf of George Bickerstaff III and Odysseas Kostas at the meeting.

The firm said there was "cause to suggest Innoviva's corporate governance architecture may be both faulty and reactive."

"In particular, we find management's language supports the notion that the success or failure of Innoviva's products is effectively predicated on GlaxoSmithKline PLC's marketing and sales programs, which are, in turn, guided by committees over which GSK exerts de facto control," Glass Lewis said.

The independent advisory firm also recommended that shareholders vote against Innoviva's executive compensation.

Innoviva previously stated that its board and management had multiple conversations with Sarissa, including their director nominees. Sarissa's nominees, if elected, would represent a majority of the board, Innoviva had said.

Sarissa has said it was not seeking control of the board, but focusing on "much needed representation" for the benefit of all shareholders.