Yet speculation is rife given the activist investor’s history with energy companies and his reputation for focusing on companies that he believes are undervalued and ripe for a shake-up in some way — with a restructuring or a sale among the possibilities.
One company that may have attracted his interest is one he already knows: Anadarko Petroleum. Shares of Anadarko, a Texas-based Independent oil company, tumbled in the spring after the explosion and spill at a BP-operated well in the Gulf of Mexico. Anadarko owns a 25 percent stake in the well.
Anadarko’s stock price fell below $35, wiping $19 billion off its market capitalization. (The stock has since recovered, closing at $56.35 on Monday.)
Mr. Icahn goes back several years with Anadarko. In 2005, Mr. Icahn and a fellow activist investor, Jana Partners, accumulated a 7 percent stake in Kerr-McGee, an Oklahoma-based energy exploration and production company. The Icahn group demanded the company sell off certain units and commence a big stock buyback. Kerr-McGee did, and then sold itself to Anadarko for $16.4 billion, representing a rich premium of 40 percent.
Mr. Icahn built his stake in the combined company, and by the beginning of 2008 he had 14.8 million Anadarko shares worth around $971 million.
“Investors who bought Kerr McGee stock on the same date I invested and profited from the acquisition by Anadarko realized an approximate 234 percent return,” Mr. Icahn wrote on his blog, the Icahn Report, in 2008.
He rode Anadarko up to its high price of around $80 a share in May of 2008 as oil prices headed to $147 a barrel. But Mr. Icahn appeared to be focusing more of his attention and money on his campaign against Yahoo. Oil prices slid to under $35 a barrel as the financial crisis took hold. Mr. Icahn began selling off his stake and was completely out of Anadarko by May 2009.
Icahn in energy
August 13, 2010 by Tobias Carlisle