Directors of Transocean Ltd. are urging shareholders to reject a campaign by activist investor Carl C. Icahn to increase the offshore-oil-rig company's dividend and name three new members to the board.
In a statement Sunday, Transocean's board described Mr. Icahn's demand that the company raise its annual dividend to $4 a share as shortsighted, saying it did not take into account the cyclical nature of the offshore-drilling business or its capital-intensive demands.
The board also criticized the new board members proposed by Mr. Icahn, who owns roughly 5.6% of Transocean's shares, saying the nominees lack the requisite energy-industry experience and were put forth because they are longtime employees or associates of the investor.
"The board believes Mr. Icahn is pursuing a highly flawed agenda focused exclusively on potentially generating temporary returns at the expense of the company's ability to operate successfully and create sustainable value over the long term," the board said in a statement.
Mr. Icahn made the demands for change in an open letter to shareholders and filings with the company earlier this month. Shareholders would vote on the proposals during the company's annual meeting, which is set for May 17.
Earlier this month, Transocean said it would reinstate its dividend at $2.24 a share after withdrawing it a year ago in the face of threats to its credit rating. The company also said it would repay about $1 billion in debt.
Mr. Icahn previously called the renewed dividend offer "meager" and said the company was making questionable financial choices by paying down low-interest debt and investing in projects with relatively low returns.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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