Problems Blamed on Management/workers Have Poor Leadership, Says Pickens

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Mediocre management is the root of the problems facing corporate America, says T. Boone Pickens.

Yet large stockholders like himself, he adds, can erode away the dirt until the roots are exposed and dredged.

Pickens was in Oklahoma City Monday touting his book "Boone," which contains a personal running narrative of the activities surounding takeover bids and proxy fights of Phillips Petroleum Co., Gulf and Unocal.

"Look at the root of the problem - that's management," Pickens said. "I mean, corporate America has mediocre management.

"The workers in corporate America are good. They can probably beat any other worker worldwide. But they've had poor leadership.

"Corporate America has control over tremendous assets. They can spend whatever money it takes to entrench themselves," Pickens said. "What they want is a tenured position, without financial risks. That's their formula to success.

"They've been able to get the entrenchment devices. Consequently, the deals are slowing down."

Pickens said it is "very, very expensive as far as doing anything to try and take over a company," noting, "they get to use stockholders money while you get to use your own money.

"You've got to have a big purse, and a lot of staying power," he said. "And the prize has to be a big prize."

Deals are slowing down, he explained, not only because of entrenchment devices and defense tactics developed on bahalf of management, but also because the stock market is up.

"When the stock market is up, there go your prospects," Pickens said. "That's the perfect defense, is to have the price of your stock near the appraised value of the assets. And if the price of the stock is up to that level, nobody is going to make an offer."

Yet the threat of a takeover should always be present, Pickens said.

"When management gets entrenched," he stated, "they're going to generally do a poor job, and when they do a poor job, the price of stock goes down.

"I just see myself as becoming a large stockholder in companies that are poorly managed," he said. …