Icahn, you can’t

“PEOPLE call us pioneers. Well...some people say pioneers end up with arrows in their back.” So James “Jim Bob” Moffett, one of the great wildcatters of the past half-century, presaged his fate in 2012. On December 28th Freeport-McMoRan, the firm he founded and built into a global mining and oil giant, said he was stepping aside as executive chairman.

He seems to be the latest casualty of the “Icahn effect”, the toppling of larger-than-life entrepreneurs of the commodities boom after Carl Icahn, a veteran activist investor, buys stakes in their firms and seeks to shift their focus to cost-cutting. Though Mr Moffett, a geologist, found one of the world’s largest copper and gold mines, Grasberg, in the mountains of Indonesia, in 1988, his costly pursuit of the appropriately named Davy Jones gasfield in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as controversial takeovers, upset many shareholders. So did a 70% drop in Freeport’s share price during 2015.

Since it invested in Freeport in August, Mr Icahn’s firm has acquired two seats on the board, and the miner has halted the dividend and shrunk operations to stabilise its debt. Mr Icahn has not...

via Business Feeds

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