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Equity firm buys 6.2% stake in Ariad

Private investment firm Sarissa Capital Management of Greenwich, Conn., has taken a 6.2 percent stake in Cambridge-based Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. and plans to seek representation on the drug maker’s board, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said representatives of Sarissa — founded by chief investment officer Alexander J. Denner, a protege of activist investor Carl Icahn — recently contacted Ariad and “requested a dialogue” with management and the board. Investment firm executives “reserve the right to take whatever future action they deem appropriate,” including buying additional shares, the filing said.

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Ariad has suffered a sharp drop in its market value in recent weeks amid new safety questions about its leukemia drug Iclusig. The company canceled a clinical trial aimed at expanding the number of patients eligible to take the medicine and put a hold on plans to move into a new headquarters and lab complex in Kendall Square.

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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