May 13 Offshore driller Transocean Ltd
said early on Monday chairman and former chief executive Michael
Talbert will step down in the next year, a move that comes days
before a proxy fight between the company and billionaire
investor Carl Icahn.
Transocean said Talbert advised the board that if re-elected
at the company's upcoming shareholders meeting on May 17, he
will retire no later than the company's 2014 annual general
Talbert was CEO of Transocean from 1994 to 2002 and has
served on the board since 1994.
Icahn has opposed Talbert's re-election. The activist
investor has been campaigning for a higher dividend payout for
more than a month and is calling for major changes to the
Switzerland-based company's board ahead of its annual meeting.
Icahn has also said the company's mergers were "ill-advised"
and its development strategies "unsuccessful."
Transocean grew out of a series of mergers that started with
the purchase by Birmingham, Alabama-based Sonat Offshore
Drilling of Norway's Transocean ASA in 1996. Three years later
came the takeover of Sedco Forex, spun off by oil services giant
Schlumberger, before a blockbuster deal with
GlobalSantaFe in 2007 created an industry leader.
Icahn, who owns about 5.6 percent of Transocean, wants the
company to replace its directors, including the chairman. He
requested shareholders to vote for his nominees, John Lipinski,
José Maria Alapont and Samuel Merksamer.