Carl Icahn vs. Occidental: Activist investor seeks 4 board seats amid Anadarko spat

Activist investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday disclosed plans to replace four members of Occidental’s board of directors, escalating his battle with the petroleum giant over its pending $38 billion bid to acquire rival firm Anadarko.

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Icahn, who holds a 5 percent stake in Occidental, said in a regulatory filing that the company’s current board of directors “have made a number of mistakes” in pursuing the Anadarko deal. The billionaire has argued for months that Occidental paid too much for Anadarko and failed to adequately consult its shareholders about the transaction.

“The Icahn Participants believe 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,” the SEC filing said. “The Icahn Participants believe that the election of new directors will also help to ensure the achievement of the Board’s and management’s projected stated cost savings and deal synergies for the Anadarko transaction.”

The filing came days after Icahn aimed criticism at Occidental’s board in a statement praising Eldorado Resorts’ $17.3 billion deal to acquire the Caesars casino empire. A Caesars shareholder, Icahn compared Caesars’ board to that of Occidental, arguing that it was an example of a corporate board that treated “shareholders [as] necessary peasants.”

In filing suit against Occidental, Icahn asserted in May that the company should consider selling itself rather than closing the Anadarko deal.

In a statement addressing Icahn’s bid to replace board members, Occidental said it remains committed to the acquisition bid.

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“We remain focused on completing our transaction with Anadarko in the second half of 2019, which we believe will create significant value and enhanced returns for shareholders,” the company said in a statement. “We will review the latest materials filed by Mr. Icahn and look forward to addressing them in our ongoing conversations with Occidental shareholders.”