Icahn Ups Oxy Board Battle After CEO Talks Fail
(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Carl Icahn formally asked Occidental Petroleum Corp. investors to help him replace four of the company’s 10 directors and potentially push for a sale. The shares climbed more than 2%.
Icahn and Occidental Chief Executive Officer Vicki Hollub spoke three times in the last six weeks both by phone and in person to discuss his ideas about corporate governance reforms after the company’s $38 billion deal to buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp. earlier this year, he said in a proxy filing Thursday.
Buying Anadarko was a “high-risk strategy” that may not have passed muster with shareholders had they been allowed to vote, Icahn said. “The board has acted and continues to act with a complete disregard with respect to stockholder demands and good governance,” he said in the filing.
Occidental “is reviewing the latest materials filed by Mr. Icahn and will respond in due course,” the company said in a statement. The stock rose 1.8% to $51.92 at 12:08 p.m. in New York after earlier rising as much as 2.1%.
The proxy battle could be a vehicle for investors to express discontent with a management team that outbid Chevron Corp. for Anadarko to expand in the Permian Basin, the world’s biggest shale oil field. The high price Occidental paid and expensive funding from Warren Buffett sparked concern among some shareholders at a time when rival oil explorers are becoming more fiscally prudent.
Icahn, who said in May he built a $1.6 billion stake in Occidental, wants Chairman Eugene Batchelder to step down along with board members Spencer Abraham, Margaret Foran and Avedick Poladian. The billionaire’s hand-picked replacements would be John Hofmeister, a retired Royal Dutch Shell Plc executive, former Jarden Corp. CFO Alan LeFevre, and Nicholas Graziano and Andrew Langham of Icahn Enterprises.
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