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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Carl Icahn says Warren Buffett's Occidental deal is a travesty

The billionaire investor Carl Icahn is furious over the generous terms Warren Buffett received when he came to the aid of Occidental Petroleum's bidding war with Chevron.
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway agreed in late April to provide $10 billion in equity financing to add firepower to Occidental's controversial hostile takeover offer for Anadarko Petroleum.
"The whole thing is a travesty," Icahn, who is launching an increasingly contentious proxy war to replace four Occidental directors, told CNN Business.
Buffett's backing allowed Occidental to sweeten its bid, eventually forcing much larger Chevron to retreat from the bidding war altogether.
Icahn, a fierce critic of the Anadarko acquisition, took particular issue with the decision by Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub to grant Buffett warrants to purchase up to 80 million shares of common stock.
"She gave him a gift," Icahn said of Hollub, adding that others would have done the deal a lot more cheaply.
However, the activist investor made clear he is not criticizing Buffett for the deal.
"I certainly don't blame Warren -- I blame the OXY board and Hollub," Icahn told CNN Business, using the oil company's stock ticker. "This is the poster child for what is wrong with corporate governance."
Still, in a letter to shareholders released Monday, Icahn suggested that Buffett took advantage of Hollub, who has admitted to having "very limited" M&A experience.
"Buffett figuratively took her to the cleaners," Icahn wrote, adding that the deal was "like taking candy from a baby."
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway did not respond to a request for comment. Occidental declined to comment, but the company has previously explained that it didn't have the luxury of waiting to get the funds it needed from Berkshire.

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