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Carl Icahn Nominee Named New to Transocean Board

Stephen Hilger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Transocean said shareholders voted out Chairman Michael Talbert at the annual meeting on Friday and backed a nominee of activist investor Carl Icahn to the board of the world's largest offshore-drilling contractor.

Transocean told the meeting in Zug, Switzerland, that shareholders also voted in favor of the board-supported dividend of $2.24 per share, while rejecting a $4-per-share payout proposed by Icahn.

Shares of the Switzerland-based company, which traded higher earlier in the day, were down 1.3 percent to $54 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The Swiss shares had closed 1.4 percent higher.

Icahn, after disclosing a 5.6-percent Transocean stake in January, set out on a campaign to shake up the board and extract a higher dividend. Transocean had called his proposed dividend "unsustainable" and offered the $2.24 per share in response.

Icahn and Transocean spent the past few months making competing presentations to investors attacking each others' board nominees and plans for company strategy.

Talbert, who Transocean said this week would be stepping down later this year no matter what, received support from 48.8 percent of the shareholders, the company said.

The new director is Sam Merksamer, 32, a managing director of Icahn Capital, as well as a director at Icahn-controlled refiner CVR Energy and a former director at utility Dynegy. Shareholders voted 69 percent in favor of Merksamer.

Icahn had proposed two other board candidates to succeed Thomas Cason and Robert Sprague, but Cason got 74 percent support from shareholders, while Sprague received 56 percent, Transocean said.

Correction:
This story was updated to reflect that Sam Merksamer was named as a board member of Transocean but not as chairman.

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