Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Boone Pickens Rides off into the Sunset '80S `Raider' Outlasted His Many Enemies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Boone Pickens Rides off into the Sunset '80S `Raider' Outlasted His Many Enemies

Article excerpt

Boone Pickens, who used Mesa Inc. to lead some of the most notorious takeover bids of the 1980s, is moving on, retiring after four decades with his beloved oil and gas company.

Pickens says he won't be looking back - there'll be no regrets when he leaves the nation's largest independent natural gas producer, which he founded with a $2,500 stake and used for the hostile takeover attempts that made him famous and sometimes hated.

Pickens, known as T. Boone despite his preference for just his middle n ame, is helping Mesa find his successor.

"When they get somebody, I'm ready to go," said the 68-year-old oilman, who led his last stockholders' meeting as chief executive July 30.

But, he said, "I imagine the last day will be a pretty sad day."

Pickens' successor may find it hard to follow the man known as one of the '80s biggest corporate raiders - a moniker Pickens detests - and who helped change the landscape of American business.

Pickens orchestrated some of the highest-profile takeover attempts of the 1980s, unsuccessfully targeting Gulf Oil Corp., Unocal Corp. and Phillips Petroleum Co. Executives of the companies accused him of undertaking the bids solely for his own profit.

The takeovers created hostile feelings that surprised Pickens, who has never liked the fact that people remember the raids more than what Mesa has earned over the years.

"If you look back over it for 40 years, the high-profile years were about four years," Pickens said. "It's interesting you're remembered for those years rather than the other 36."

In a twist of fate, Pickens' departure also involved a raiding party. Only this time it was against Mesa and Pickens, and it was led by Pickens protege David Batchelder.

Batchelder's takeover attempt was rebuffed when Texas financier and Pickens ally Richard Rainwater stepped in and recapitalized the company with more than $1 billion in lower-cost financing.

Rainwater got a 32.5 percent stake in Mesa for his investment, making him the company's biggest shareholder, and he may eventually end up with 64 percent. …

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