Occidental Petroleum holders elect board, increase shares and authorize Berkshire warrants

(Reuters) - Occidental Petroleum Corp shareholders on Friday elected all 11 directors, approved the issue of new shares and warrants and a poison-pill measure, the first shareholder votes on last year’s $38-billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Occidental Petroleum is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Directors elected include three associates of activist investor Carl Icahn, who opposed the Anadarko deal. Shareholders also authorized share warrants awarded to Berkshire Hathaway Inc under a financing deal.

The company did not disclose vote tallies during the meeting.

Occidental posted a $2.2-billion first-quarter loss from write downs and the about 45% collapse in oil prices this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It may need to swap shares for debt to reduce the cost of financing the deal, an ill-timed bet on rising shale oil production and prices.

The company has slashed its dividend by 86% and spending nearly in half, and asked employees to bid for job buyouts. This week, Anadarko investors sued Occidental, alleging it concealed its inability to weather collapsing oil prices.

Occidental has been paying dividends to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in shares in lieu of cash, a move to help relieve strain on its balance sheet.

Shareholders authorized the company to issue 400 million shares in part to give it a means of continuing to pay preferred dividends in stock, and potentially to swap shares for its debt.

Last year, Berkshire helped finance the Anadarko deal by buying $10 billion in preferred shares. Friday’s vote also authorized the issue to Berkshire of warrants for up 80 million common shares.

This month, planned sales of Occidental’s Algerian and Ghanaian oil holdings to France’s Total SA fell through. CEO Vicki Hollub said those assets would be marketed to other companies.

Global crude futures were trading around $34.83 a barrel on Friday.

Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski