March 4 Transocean Ltd , the
world's largest offshore drilling contractor, said its board
recommended restarting dividend payments, more than a month
after activist investor Carl Icahn pushed for a payout.
The board has recommended that shareholders approve $2.24
per share dividend at the annual general meeting on May 17. The
total payout would be about $800 million, the company said. It
plans to pay the dividend on a quarterly basis starting June.
Top shareholder Icahn, who now owns 5.6 percent of
Transocean shares, pushed for nearly double of the recommended
dividend. He asked for at least $4 per share in January.
After paying a dividend in 2011, its first in nine years,
Transocean last year abandoned payouts that totaled $3.16 per
share annually, to maintain a strong balance sheet and
investment-grade rating on its debt.
The company has struggled with ballooning costs over the
past few years as it sought to get its ageing fleet into shape
under stricter regulations that followed BP's 2010
Macondo oil spill, which destroyed a Transocean rig and killed
Transocean reached a $1.4 billion settlement with the U.S.
government on Jan. 3 over its liability in the Macondo disaster.
Ten days later, Icahn declared his initial stake of about 1.56
Switzerland-based Transocean, which has a long-term debt of
over $11 billion, plans to accelerate repayment with an
objective of retiring $1 billion of debt by the end of 2014.
Transocean reported on Friday a rise in revenue and
higher-than-expected profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31 as
more of its fleet was working compared with a year ago.
The company's shares were up 3.7 percent at 50.40 Swiss
francs on the SIX Swiss Exchange on Monday.