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Top Vivus shareholder says proxy firm ISS backs three of nine board nominees

(Reuters) - Vivus Inc's largest shareholder, First Manhattan Co, said on Friday proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended three of the nine directors the shareholder had proposed for nomination to the drugmaker's board.

Another advisory firm, Egan Jones, has backed all the nominees, while a third one, Glass Lewis, called Vivus's plan to launch diet drug Qsymia without a commercial partner "ill-advised", First Manhattan said in a statement.

Qsymia's lackluster sales have been the main point of criticism by First Manhattan, which owns about 9.9 percent of the Vivus. The activist investor and has also called for a new chief executive.

Shareholders are slated to vote on First Manhattan's propositions at Vivus's annual general meeting on July 15.

ISS, Egan Jones and Glass Lewis were not immediately available for comment outside of regular business hours.

In its defense, Vivus has maintained that it has been moving ahead with its plans of gaining wider insurance coverage for Qsymia and that its chief executive and board members have been laying the groundwork for the drug's sales growth.

A turnover of its board, as per First Manhattan's plans, would only delay the success of Qsymia, Vivus said on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)