Billionaire Activist Icahn Pushing Ahead with Plan to Control Oxy Board

Carl Icahn advanced his effort to replace Occidental Petroleum’s entire board by submitting nominations for as many as 14 directors, according to people familiar with the matter.

Icahn, who owns a stake in the company valued at about $1 billion, filed his slate of directors on Tuesday, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The candidate slate is designed to replace all 10 members of the current board as well as fill new seats that might be created under Occidental’s bylaws, the people said.

A representative for Icahn declined to comment. A representative for Occidental wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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Icahn has been a vocal critic of the company — and Chief Executive Officer Vicki Hollub in particular — over its $37 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. completed in August. He has attacked the lack of a shareholder vote and the pricey $10 billion financing the company obtained from Warren Buffett to get the deal done.

Occidental’s shares closed Friday at $38.57 a share, giving the company a market value of about $34 billion.

Occidental’s stock has slumped 43% since its interest in Anadarko was first reported in April. The company is the fifth-worst performer in the S&P 500 index this year.

In a Nov. 8 letter explaining his decision to launch a proxy fight, Icahn said the merger made “no sense” to anyone other than Hollub and certain members of the board, who he said “grossly overpaid” for Anadarko to avoid becoming a takeover target themselves.

Icahn has argued Occidental should launch a strategic review, including a potential sale of the combined company, once the Anadarko deal was completed.

Houston-based Occidental said this month it plans to cut spending by 40% next year and accelerate asset sales in order to pay down debt and protect its dividend, both of which Hollub described as her “top priorities.” The company said it’s on track to exceed the upper end of its $10 billion to $15 billion asset plan by the middle of 2020, six months ahead of schedule.


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