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Carl Icahn Boosts His Occidental Petroleum Stake Up to 10%

By Matthew DiLallo - Mar 12, 2020 at 10:14AM

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The long-time critic of the beleaguered oil giant could press for management changes.

Carl Icahn has increased his stake in oil giant Occidental Petroleum (OXY 2.55%) from 2.5% to 10%, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The activist investor made the move as the oil giant's shares cratered this week following a historic crash in oil prices

Icahn has been highly critical of Occidental Petroleum's management team because of how they handled the $55 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum. The company structured the highly controversial transaction so that it didn't need to obtain shareholder approval. That resulted in it taking on a significant amount of debt, which is putting intense pressure on its balance sheet now that crude prices have cratered.

Oil pumps surrounded by water.

Image source: Getty Images.

That's forcing Occidental Petroleum to take drastic actions so that its financial condition doesn't deteriorate further. These moves have included slashing its dividend by 86% and reducing its capital budget range down to $3.5 billion-$3.7 billion, about a $1.7 billion cut. Those changes will enable Occidental Petroleum to generate enough money to cover its reset dividend and reduced capital spending level on the cash flow it can produce at oil prices in the low $30s.

These changes, while necessary in light of the company's financial situation, likely aren't enough to satisfy Icahn. He's seeking control of the company's board to potentially oust its management team, who he believes pushed through the Anadarko deal to preserve their jobs at the expense of shareholders. 

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