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Mylan's "Three-Ring Circus"

On July 26, Mylan Laboratories (NYSE: MYL  ) announced that it was going to acquire King Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: KG  ) in a $4 billion deal. That seemed like a pretty straightforward announcement, so who would have imagined it evolving into a "three-ring circus"? At least that's how Carl Icahn sees it, as stated in a letter to management offering to buy Mylan for $20 a share. Never mind that $20 is a slap-in-the-face premium of 7% to yesterday's closing price.

Mylan's plan to acquire King was never wildly popular. That's no secret. But, after reviewing the events of the past four months, I have to conclude that one of the big reasons that this is such a soap opera is because Icahn stuck his nose where he didn't need to. That's not to say he should or shouldn't. Anyone can buy shares of publicly traded companies. It just seems a bit odd to get so involved with a company toward which he has so much animosity.

It appears that Icahn had no stake in Mylan Labs before July 26. According to a Schedule 13-D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 7, Icahn started rapidly accumulating Mylan shares on July 26 and continued to do so very frequently. By Sept. 7, his shares were worth $307 million, and right now his holdings total more than $450 million, or nearly 10% of the value of the company.

That's some exceptionally heavy buying in such a short period of time. So if the King deal were so terrible, why would Icahn begin to acquire shares only after the deal was announced?

Does anyone think it was to act as a white knight protecting shareholders' interests? Or because he cares about the future of Mylan Labs? I can't pretend to speak for him, but I very seriously doubt that there is any altruistic motive here. If these moves were coming from a longtime Mylan shareholder, we could entertain those scenarios. But not from a newcomer. So really the only answer that makes sense is that Icahn thinks he can manipulate this situation to make money. And a lot of it.

For additional articles on the biotech industry, see:

Fool contributorCharly Traversdoes not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Charly is also an analyst forMotley Fool Rule Breakers. If you'd like to see what David Gardner and his team of analysts have cooking, we invite you to take a free trial with no obligation.

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