Transocean Says Board Opposes Icahn Dividend, Director Proposals

Transocean Ltd., the offshore rig contractor criticized by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, said the board wants investors to vote against his dividend proposal and three director nominees.

“The board believes the dividend proposed by Mr. Icahn would adversely affect the company’s ability to operate and compete effectively in a cyclical and capital-intensive industry,” Transocean said today in a statement. “The election of Mr. Icahn’s candidates -- who are hand-picked to pursue his potentially damaging short-term agenda -- is not in the best interest of the company and all of its stakeholders.”

Icahn, the largest shareholder in the Vernier, Switzerland-based company, proposed March 7 that John Lipinski, Jose Maria Alapont and Samuel Merksamer be added to the board. He will also ask investors at the annual meeting on May 17 to vote in favor of a $4-a-share annual dividend, which he first proposed in January.

Transocean said March 4 that the board would recommend reinstating its dividend at $2.24 and boosting debt repayment. The company also has defended its 13 board members and called Icahn’s plan “overly aggressive.”

Today’s comments were the first recommendations from the board on Icahn’s proposals. The board declined to make a recommendation to shareholders regarding Icahn’s proposal to do away with staggered terms for directors.

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