July 14 (Reuters) - Vivus Inc said it has invited three of the nominees proposed by its top investor First Manhattan Co (FMC) to join its board, regardless of the outcome of the vote at the obesity drugmaker's annual meeting.
The annual shareholder meeting of California-based Vivus will be held on July 15.
FMC, a New York-based investment advisory firm, has repeatedly criticized Vivus saying it badly mishandled the launch of its obesity drug Qsymia and failed to land a large company partner with deep pockets and a big enough sales force to help the drug reach its blockbuster potential.
In a press release sent late Saturday, Vivus said it has invited Michael Astrue, Alex Denner and David Norton, or any other FMC nominee who is among FMC's three highest in the proxy vote, to join the drugmaker's board.
A FMC spokesman declined to comment.
In March, FMC said it would seek to replace six of Vivus' nine board members. But in May, the investment firm, which has a 9.9 percent stake in Vivus, revised its plan to try to replace the entire slate of nine directors at the company's annual shareholder meeting.
FMC adviser took its fight one step further earlier this month when it named the CEO it would bring in if it was successful in its campaign. The investor chose former AstraZeneca Plc senior executive Anthony Zook to replace longtime Vivus CEO Leland Wilson.