Boone Pickens: I Learned Not to Give Away the 'Ranch'

Reporting by Becky Quick|Written by Michelle Lodge
Friday, 22 Oct 2010 | 5:19 PM ET

T. Boone Pickens told CNBC Friday that he’s more conservative in his business dealings, thanks to mistakes, including one he openly acknowledges was a whopper.

Boone's Biggest Bobble
Oil and natural gas magnate Boone Pickens tells CNBC's Becky Quick about the biggest trading mistake he ever made.

“The biggest mistake is when we gave the big dividend to the shareholders, and we passed out $1.2 billion,” he said, referring to when he ran oil company Mesa and was acquiring other companies. He was betting that natural gas wouldn’t drop below $2.32, but, in fact, it fell to 90 cents.

“I had no idea at that point that I was actually distributing equity in the company, because I thought natural gas prices would go up.”

Pickens, now the chairman of the hedge fund BP Capital Management, is Texas oil magnate and well-known corporate raider and takeover operator.

The oilman said knowing that he's imperfect in his business dealings is a valuable understanding to have.

He added that now when he goes after deals, his methodology is different.

“I don't do them as big, as robust as I did, say 10, 20, 30 years ago,” he added. “I go after the whole enchilada, and now I take bites off of it. But I am still in the game.”

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