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'Too Little, Too Late,' Icahn Tells Transocean, Targets Board

CNBC With Reuters
Monday, 4 Mar 2013 | 11:34 AM ET
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn geared up for another brawl in the corporate suite, telling CNBC on Monday that Transocean's recent dividend payout plan is "too little, too late."

The world's top offshore drilling company recently started paying its dividends, but only after having halted them last year.

That maneuver prompted the legendary investor to push for a new payout. On Monday, Icahn became more vocal, and threatened to propose a new group of directors, after having upped his stake in Transocean.

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"Shareholders deserve the capital," Icahn told CNBC in an interview. "This company needs new blood on the board, and we're putting up a slate."Icahn, who owns 5.6 percent of the the world's largest offshore drilling contractor and is its largest shareholder, asked for at least $4 per share in January.

Transocean's board — which recently stated its intentions to pay a dividend on a quarterly basis starting in June —has recommended that shareholders approve a $2.25 dividend at its annual general meeting on May 17.

The company has struggled with ballooning costs over the past few years. The company has been saddled with the cost of upgrading an aging fleet, in accordance with the tighter regulatory environment that came in the wake of BP's 2010 Macondo oil spill. The drilling disaster destroyed a Transocean rig and killed 11 people.

Transocean reached a $1.4 billion settlement with the U.S. government on Jan. 3 over its liability in the Macondo disaster. Ten days later, Icahn declared his initial stake of about 1.56 percent.

Transocean shares were about 44 cents higher at $52.57 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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