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Vivus says victim of false statements, delays shareholder meet

(Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Vivus Inc, locked in a proxy battle with top investor First Manhattan Co, said FMC's advisers had made false statements to its shareholders and that it would delay its annual meeting by three days to allow FMC to make corrections.

Vivus said on Sunday that the statements related the recommendation provided by proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) but did not provide details.

ISS backed three of the nine nominees put forward by FMC but said the wholesale changes that FMC demanded at the company were not required.

Vivus said it had asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to force FMC, which has a 9.9 percent stake in the company, to correct the statements.

FMC has accused Vivus of mishandling the launch and marketing of its obesity drug Qsymia, preventing the drug from reaching its blockbuster potential.

The annual meeting, which was supposed to have been held on Monday, is now scheduled for Thursday.

FMC accused Vivus of disenfranchising shareholders by delaying the meeting and said it would examine all options, including legal action over the "strong-armed tactic."

"FMC is acutely aware of its disclosure obligations and strongly disagrees with Vivus' recent comments," FMC said.

Vivus representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside regular business hours.

FMC has proposed replacing the entire slate of nine directors at the annual meeting and has said it would bring in former AstraZeneca Plc senior executive Anthony Zook to replace longtime Vivus CEO Leland Wilson.

On Saturday, Vivus said it would invite three of the nominees proposed by FMC to join its board, regardless of the outcome of the vote at the annual meeting.

FMC said it had been in talks with Vivus as late as Sunday evening. "Instead of continuing these negotiations, Vivus` board and CEO have resorted to tactics that we believe are simply aimed at preserving their entrenched position," FMC said.

QVT Financial LP, the third-largest shareholder in Vivus, intends to vote for the full slate of nine directors proposed by FMC, a source familiar with QVT's thinking said last week.

The investment firm, which owns about 8.3 percent of Vivus according to the latest public filings, has come to the decision because it believes that changes are needed at the drugmaker, the source said.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Ted Kerr)

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