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Occidental Asks Shareholders To Vote Against Icahn’s Activist Proposal

Occidental Petroleum has called on its shareholders to vote against activist investor Carl Icahn’s push to replace four members of the board of directors in a bid to prevent future deals of the magnitude of the Anadarko takeover.

Reuters reports that the billionaire investor’s plans include changing the company’s charter to stop it from ever taking over another company like Anadarko again.

Carl Icahn was among the most vocal critics of the US$38-billion takeover of Anadarko, in which Occidental beat Chevron. The deal will cement and expand Occidental’s position as the largest oil producer in the Permian after it incorporates Anadarko’s acreage, which comes in at some 600,000 acres gross in the Delaware Basin, part of the largest and most prolific shale play in the United States.

The takeover was the result of a bidding war in which Occidental first beat Chevron’s US$33-billion offer and then tweaked its own so that the cash portion of the price ended up at 80 percent. Icahn has argued that this is too high a price for such a deal, adding that it could jeopardize the future of Occidental in case oil prices fall substantially.

“It is important to add new directors to Occidental’s Board of Directors to oversee future extraordinary transactions like the Anadarko transaction and to ensure that they are not consummated without stockholder approval when appropriate,” he told Oxy shareholders last month.

Icahn’s concern about unfavorable oil prices is not out of the question: despite OPEC+’s decision to extend cuts totaling 1.2 million bpd until the end of March 2020, oil prices have been on the decline pressured by rising U.S. production and worry that the U.S.-China trade war and other factors would lead to slower global economic growth and affect oil demand.

Even with these worries, however, Occidental is better placed than many to weather lower oil prices simply because of its size and footprint in the Permian.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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