Why Carl Icahn Dumped $400 Million In Occidental Petroleum Stock

Investor Carl Icahn has slashed his sizable holdings of Occidental Petroleum in an escalation of the tensions between Oxy and Icahn over Oxy’s purchase of Anadarko Petroleum, according to the activist investor’s website, citing an open latter to Oxy shareholders on Friday.

Icahn dump one-third of his shares, or 10 million, leaving Icahn with 23 million shares valued at $900 million. As of May, Icahn held $1.6 billion in Occidental, or 4.4% of the company.

But Icahn has spoken out over Occidental’s $38 billion purchase of Anadarko in August—a purchase that was made without shareholder approval. In the days that followed, Icahn tried to unseat 4 members of Oxy’s board, saying they had made errors in how it purchased Anadarko and how much it paid for it.

“The Icahn Participants believe that the Company’s current directors have made a number of mistakes in how and at what cost they pursued the Anadarko transaction. In addition to agreeing to expensive financing, the Company also structured the Anadarko transaction in a manner that deprived the stockholders of the Company of the right to vote on the transformational Anadarko transaction,” Icahn said in the filing to the SEC, adding that the deal was high-risk.

“In my opinion, Oxy’s acquisition of Anadarko is nothing more than a massive $57 billion levered bet on the price of oil – and the bet is failing.” Icahn’s letter to investors read in part.

Icahn has accused certain members of the board of purchasing Anadarko for the sole purpose of protecting Occidental from being a takeover target. Icahn has vowed to launch a proxy fight against Occidental’s board sometime in 2020.

Occidental’s share price has lost a lot of ground this year, reaching a 14-year low on Thursday, but ticked up on Friday on news of Icahn’s stock purge. No mention was made as to how much Icahn lost on his divestment.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com