MEI Pharma shareholder drama continues

Sept. 29, 2023

San Diego-based oncology developer MEI Pharma and prominent stockholders Anson Funds and Cable Car Capital can't seem to come to an agreement.

Earlier this week, Anson and Cable Car, which collectively own approximately 19.9% of the outstanding common stock of MEI Pharma, delivered a letter to MEI stockholders and filed definitive consent materials with the SEC seeking to remove the entire board of directors of MEI for cause.

MEI fired back with a scathing press release, slamming Anson and Cable Car's "opportunist" agenda. MEI says its focus is where it should be:  advancing its two lead programs, voruciclib and ME-344, both on the cusp of reporting clinical data during the first half of 2024.

Both in early stage trials, voruciclib is a potent orally administered CDK9 inhibitor with potential to treat both hematological malignancies and solid tumors and ME-344 an intravenous small molecule mitochondrial inhibitor targeting the oxidative phosphorylation pathway. In its appeal to shareholders, MEI says Anson and Cable Car's actions will "cripple the company’s ability to leverage the potential to create value from the expected upcoming data readouts from both programs."

Back in MayAnson and Cable Car had launched a unsolicited takeover bid for MEI, offering $8 per share plus a contingent value right. MEI, however, was busy trying to lock in a merger agreement with Infinity Pharma that has been announced in February. Under the agreement, Infinity would have become a wholly owned subsidiary of MEI Pharma.

But MEI couldn't get stockholders on board, and the Infinity deal was terminated in July.

Now, in their recent letter to stockholdersAnson and Cable Car have reiterated that the "speculative" merger with Infinity was not in the best interest of stockholders, which lends credence to their claim that MEI's board is "incapable of providing effective oversight and operating with the best interests of stockholders in mind."

The MEI board of directors says it will provide its formal recommendation with respect to the consent solicitation in its definitive consent solicitation materials that will be filed with the SEC in the coming days.