By Gary McWilliams
HOUSTON (Reuters) – Activist investor Carl Icahn has stepped up his attack on SandRidge Energy Inc’s proposal to buy a rival oil-and-gas producer, taking aim at the company’s top executives and calling for a release of records on the deal and executive pay, according to a regulatory filing on Friday.
The document request came a day after Icahn called the company’s $746 million offer for Bonanza Creek Energy Inc “value-destroying,” and said he may solicit other holders to help overturn the company’s board of directors.
Icahn wants to investigate the compensation of SandRidge’s senior management, including Chief Executive James Bennett, the deliberations involving its proposed acquisition of Bonanza Creek, and the recent poison pill plan laid out by SandRidge, according to the filing. (http://bit.ly/2zIYusA)
“These requests are common in these types of situations and we will address it in due course,” Oklahoma City-based SandRidge said in a statement on Friday.
In a letter to SandRidge’s board on Thursday, Icahn said the shareholder rights plan adopted earlier this week was designed to prevent large shareholders from campaigning against the deal. (http://bit.ly/2nllDjs)
Icahn has accused the company’s management of reneging on a pledge not to “overpay for assets, overleverage itself or overcompensate its managers” and said a better use for its cash would be to buy back its own shares.
The largest shareholder of SandRidge with an about 13.5 percent stake, Icahn had said he was prepared to begin litigation against the company.
Several other SandRidge holders including Fir Tree Partners, which holds an about 8.3 percent stake, and Susquehanna Advisors Group with about 4 percent, have come out against the purchase.
SandRidge has said its cash-and-stock offer for Bonanza Creek would expand its presence in the Denver-Julesburg Basin of Colorado, “adding a deep inventory of drill-ready locations” in an area where it already has substantial assets.
SandRidge’s shares were up 1.2 percent at $18.83 in trading late on Friday, while Bonanza Creek was up 0.7 percent at $27.96.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston; editing by Martina D’Couto and Tom Brown)