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Lawyers Debate Icahn-Oxy Feud

Published: December 3rd, 2019
Sidley's Kai Liekefett and Schulte's Ele Klein diverge in their opinions about Carl Icahn’s unyielding agitation at Occidental Petroleum.

Two of the country’s top attorneys involved in launching and defending shareholder activist campaigns on Wednesday, Nov. 20, diverged in their opinions about Carl Icahn’s unyielding agitation at Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY).

Icahn has taken issue with Occidental Petroleum’s $38 billion recently closed acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and two related deals, arguing they were hugely destructive for shareholder value.

Sidley Austin LLP’s Kai Liekefett, who co-chair’s the firm’s activist practice, defended the company, suggesting Icahn should back off and give the friendly deal a chance.

Meanwhile, Ele Klein, co-chair of the global shareholder activism group at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP and whose practice supports activists in their campaigns, took issue with the deal’s funding and its impact on voting rights for OXY shareholders. He refrained from commenting on whether the price was too high. He suggested, however, that the company was trying to avoid a shareholder vote by raising the cash component to finance the deal.

“How do you know what most of the investors think?” Klein said. “Didn’t the company make sure that they weren’t going to have to ask them those questions about how they restructured the deal and make sure they didn’t know what the investors wanted?”

—Ronald Orol contributed to this report

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