Pickens: Activist Shareholders More Good Than Bad

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April 28 (Bloomberg) –- BP Capital Chairman, CEO and Founder T. Boone Pickens discusses activist investors and alternative energy at the 2014 Milken Global Conference on Bloomberg Television’s “Taking Stock.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Activism.

It is a hot topic.

You are involved in this back in the 1980's. the business was so reviled to transform itself into a force for good.

How?

Activism.

Right.

I thought you were talking about the oil industry.

I was there before they had cars.

Because you guys in the media figured it out, that what was happening was a huge investment was made.

I bought stock in a company.

I want to make a company better, and it was reported that i was an asset stripper, that i was going to destroy assets.

For me to put my money in it and then destroy it, you have to be crazy.

Bill ackman and others are doing today -- in your opinion, is this any different from what was going on in the 1980's? no.

Why do you think it is different?

They are embracing the media, using the media as a tool, coming after each other.

Yes, i did.

I took interviews and everything else.

I was described as, you know, a raider.

I put my money in.

These guys running the company, they did not have any stock to speak of.

So when you see what carl icahn and bill ackman and the others are doing, the way they are conducting their businesses, do you think it is a good idea?

Sure, i do.

It creates value for the stockholders.

Wait a minute.

Let's you wrote in -- you wrote in "time" magazine that carl icahn is the best thing going.

A lot of people would say that carl icahn is the best thing going for carl icahn.

He is a stockholder.

How would they respond to that?

What if they make money in six months, but two years later, what the company did in order to make sure holders money in the short run turns out to be a bad idea?

They are there for the long term.

Sure, they are.

They are not shareholders.

Shareholders would rather make money fast and slow, ok?

Ask them sometimes.

You do not think activism is being misused in any way?

No.

it is not perfect, but, no, i think it is more good than bad.

What would you say about the state of corporate america?

Our boardrooms more susceptible to that type of approach today or less so than back in the 1980's? x -- can you show me one place in the united states where somebody gets too high or their bosses?

-- hire their bosses?

Good point.

The directors.

That may practically speaking be true, but in theory, the shareholders continue to reelect them.

Are shareholders really paying attention?

Do you think though that corporate america is waking up to this?

Sure.

Traditionally, it was an old boys network pick that is right.

It is better than it was in the 1980's, that is for sure, but you need to have another system.

You should use headhunters to get directors, not managers to pick whatever.

Many companies have age limits.

They cannot be over 75. i was on a board.

They wanted to get me off, so they gave me one year.

I resigned.

All they had to do was ask me.

I want to ask you a question about the energy industry.

For a long time -- that is the way you really fix america.

If i want to be on a board, say, like ge, i would have to have at least an average number of shares.

There was one board, the ceo had 23,000 shares, and the last one, the new director, he had 67 shares.

They do not give a dam about this company.

I have got millions of dollars about it.

It is very disruptive.

They can put up their directors, and i sent my resume in.

And they have three openings on the board.

They had come up with two directors for the board seats.

The way to do it, like you run for congress.

I was going to ask the question before we run out of time about alternative energy.

You surprised a lot of people a few years ago by taking a very positive attitude towards alternative energy, especially wind power.

It seems now that you have backed away from that position.

With over million dollars, would you back away?

I might.

Why is alternative energy a bad idea?

I am for wind.

You have to have six dollar natural gas to make wind work.

The margin is natural gas.

So when we build wind farms, and a lot of people are building wind farms, are they just throwing good money after bad?

They are using somebody who has to have that in their portfolio, to have a renewable in the portfolio.

Does make sense to you that the koch brothers are taking a public stand for subsidies for alternative energy, or do we need subsidies is alternative energy is going to be a viable industry?

I do not care if you have it or not.

They were against me for natural gas, because they want natural gas really treat -- cheap because they're in the fertilizer business.

So where do you and they stand right now?

Them?

Yes.

We disagree on that.

They do not want natural gas -- but i do not have any conversation with them this has been an honor and a pleasure.

Are we through?

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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