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Ariad adds activist investor to board

Activist investor Alexander J. Denner has been named to a two-year term on the board of Cambridge biotech Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., the company said Friday.

Denner, a protege of Carl C. Icahn and veteran of many battles with biotechnology managers, recently founded his own hedge fund, Sarissa Capital Management of Greenwich, Conn. The fund bought a 6.2 percent stake in Ariad last October, according to a regulatory filing, and Denner has been agitating for a seat on Ariad’s board.

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The company, which lost more than half its stock value last year amid safety concerns over its blood cancer drug Iclusig, has been a rumored takeover candidate. Denner’s appointment boosts the number of Ariad directors to nine. Ariad said it plans to add a 10th.

Neither Denner nor an Ariad representative immediately responded to requests for comment.

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