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Billionaire Investor Icahn Rekindles Battle With Occidental Board

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Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn wants to know if Occidental was approached with a takeover offer from a potential buyer before forging the US$55-billion acquisition of Anadarko, which Icahn has been criticizing since the very beginning.

In a letter to Occidental’s shareholders sent on Wednesday and seen by Bloomberg News, Icahn says that he believes Oxy’s top management moved to buy Anadarko as a “defensive maneuver” against a potential takeover of Oxy itself.

By buying Anadarko, Oxy completed one of the industry’s largest acquisitions last year, and it also took on a lot of debt in the transaction.

Icahn, who holds 3 percent in Occidental, has been a vocal opponent of the Anadarko acquisition, and has criticized Oxy’s top management for embarking on this “ill-advised” deal.

Last November, Icahn revealed that he had slashed his stake in Occidental, and sought to change the board of directors at Oxy.

In a letter to shareholders in November 2019, Icahn said:

“In our view, the Oxy/Anadarko merger made no sense for stockholders, but perhaps it made sense for Vicki Hollub, OXY’s President and CEO, and certain Board members who, we believe, were concerned that OXY would be a takeover target, and therefore grossly overpaid to acquire Anadarko in order to protect themselves and their jobs.”

Reducing his stake in Oxy, Icahn said in November, “I have no faith in Hollub or her Board, and even though I do believe that OXY owns good assets, I draw the line at exposing more than $1 billion to a CEO and Board who, in my view, have gambled the Company to further their own agendas – all at the expense of stockholders.”

Referring to the Anadarko deal, Icahn argues in his latest letter to shareholders on Wednesday—as carried by Bloomberg—that “You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that these actions point to the fact that Hollub and Batchelder are hiding something important, such as the possibility of an acquirer.”

The investor urged Occidental’s top management to publicly state whether the company was a takeover target before agreeing to the Anadarko deal.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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