Activist investor Carl Icahn ripped his longtime nemesis Occidental Petroleum on Tuesday, criticizing the Houston-based company’s board of directors while offering praise for officials who facilitated Eldorado Resorts’ $17.3 billion deal to acquire the Caesars casino empire.
Icahn, who supported the casino merger, praised Caesars’ handling of negotiations while criticizing corporate boards that treat “shareholders [as] necessary peasants who represent a necessary evil that must be tolerated, possibly patronized, but certainly ignored.”
“The recent Occidental Petroleum fiasco is a great example of how CEOs and boards will go to great lengths, including ‘betting the company’ to serve their own agendas,” Icahn said in a statement. “If their bet is successful, they and possibly their shareholders win, but if it is unsuccessful, only the shareholders lose.”
A major Occidental shareholder, Icahn filed suit against the company earlier this year to protest its pending $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum. Icahn asserts that Occidental paid far too much in the deal and damaged shareholder value.
Occidental has rejected Icahn’s criticism, noting in a statement last May that the deal was “a unique opportunity to deliver compelling value and returns to shareholders of both companies.”
Eldorado acquired Caesars properties at a cost of $12.75 per share. The deals’ total value was $17.3 billion, including debt. The combined entities represent one of the U.S.’s largest gaming empires.
“Too many boards like Occidental’s believe they are unaccountable and cannot be removed, and therefore can do almost anything they please,” Icahn added. “This attitude is a major threat to the value of America’s companies, the stockholders of which are many middle Americans who have more of their savings invested in stocks than ever before.”