cloudyn.png
Thursday September 19th, 2019 3:05AM

T. Boone Pickens, oilman and renewables advocate, dies at 91

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — T. Boone Pickens, a brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts, died Wednesday. He was 91.

Pickens was surrounded by friends and family when he died of natural causes under hospice care at his Dallas home, spokesman Jay Rosser said. Pickens suffered a series of strokes in 2017 and was hospitalized that July after what he called a "Texas-sized fall."

An only child who grew up in a small railroad town in Oklahoma, Pickens followed his father into the oil and gas business. After just three years, he formed his own company and built a reputation as a maverick, unafraid to compete against oil-industry giants.

In the 1980s, Pickens switched from drilling for oil to plumbing for riches on Wall Street. He led bids to take over big oil companies including Gulf, Phillips and Unocal, castigating their executives as looking out only for themselves while ignoring the shareholders.

Even when Pickens and other so-called corporate raiders failed to gain control of their targets, they scored huge payoffs by selling their shares back to the company and dropping their hostile takeover bids.

Former President George W. Bush said in a statement that Pickens became a household name because he was "bold, imaginative and daring."

"He was successful, and more importantly, he generously shared his success with institutions and communities across Texas and Oklahoma," Bush said. "He loved the outdoors, his country and his friends and family, and Laura and I send our condolences."

Later in his career, Pickens championed renewable energy including wind power. He argued that the United States needed to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. He sought out politicians to support his "Pickens Plan," which envisioned an armada of wind turbines across the middle of the country that could generate enough power to free up natural gas for use in vehicles.

"I've been an oilman all my life, but this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of," he said in 2009.

Pickens' advocacy for renewable energy led to some unusual alliances. He had donated to many Republican candidates since the 1980s, and in the 2004 presidential campaign he helped bankroll television ads by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that attacked Democratic nominee John Kerry. A few years later, Pickens endorsed a Kerry proposal to limit climate change.

Pickens couldn't duplicate his oil riches in renewable energy. In 2009, he scrapped plans for a huge Texas wind farm after running into difficulty getting transmission lines approved, and eventually his renewables business failed.

"It doesn't mean that wind is dead," Pickens said at the time. "It just means we got a little bit too quick off the blocks."

Pickens flirted with marketing water from West Texas, acquiring water rights in the early 2000s in hopes of selling it to thirsty cities. But he couldn't find a buyer, and in 2011 he signed a deal with nearby regional water supplier to sell the water rights beneath 211,000 acres for $103 million.

In 2007, Forbes magazine estimated Pickens' net worth at $3 billion. He eventually slid below $1 billion and off the magazine's list of wealthiest Americans. In 2016, the magazine put his worth at $500 million.

Besides his peripatetic business and political interests, Pickens made huge donations to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University — the football stadium bears his name, and he gave $100 million for endowed faculty positions.

"He was the ultimate Cowboy," university President Burns Hargis said in a statement. "It is impossible to calculate his full impact on Oklahoma State. His historic gifts to academics and athletics not only transformed the university, they inspired thousands of others to join in the transformation."

Pickens' foundation gave $50 million each to the University of Texas' M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He was among those who signed a "giving pledge" started by billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, promising to donate a majority of his wealth to charity.

"I firmly believe one of the reasons I was put on this Earth was to make money and be generous with it," he said on his website.

Pickens was born in 1928 in Holdenville, Oklahoma. His father was a landman, someone who secures mineral-rights leases for oil and gas drilling. His mother ran a government office that handled gasoline-rationing coupons for a three-county area during World War II.

A child of the Depression, Pickens credited his father with teaching him to take risks and praised his grandmother for lessons in being frugal. If young Boone continued to leave the lights on after leaving a room, she declared, she would hand the electric bill to the boy so he could pay it.

Pickens went to work by age 12, getting a newspaper route. He expanded it by buying the routes on either side of his — marking his first venture into acquisitions.

Although only 5-foot-8, Pickens was a star guard on his high school basketball team in Amarillo, Texas, and earned a sports scholarship to Texas A&M University. He lost the scholarship when he broke an elbow, and he transferred to Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State.

After graduating with a degree in geology, he joined Phillips Petroleum Co., where his father, T. Boone Pickens Sr., was working. The younger Pickens was unhappy with his job from the start.

After just three years, he borrowed some money and found two investors to start his own business, called Petroleum Exploration. That was a predecessor to Mesa Petroleum, an oil and gas company in Amarillo, which Pickens took public in 1964.

By the 1980s, the stock of the major petroleum producers was so cheap that it became cheaper to get new oil reserves by taking over a company than by drilling. Pickens set his sights on acquiring other companies.

In 1984, Mesa Petroleum made a profit of more than $500 million from a hostile bid for Gulf Corp., then the fifth-largest oil company in the United States, when Gulf maneuvered to sell itself instead to Chevron. Before that, Pickens earned $31.5 million by driving Cities Service into the arms of Occidental Petroleum.

Later that year, Pickens launched a bid for his old employer, Phillips Petroleum. It was an unpopular move in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where Phillips was headquartered. Residents held 24-hour prayer vigils to support the company.

Pickens' methods angered his targets.

"He's only after the almighty buck," G.C. Richardson, a retired executive of Cities Services, said in 1985. "He's nothing but a pirate."

Pickens insisted that he was a friend of ordinary shareholders, who benefited when his forays caused the stock price of a company to rise.

Pickens' star faded in the 1990s. He lost control of debt-ridden Mesa, and his bullishness on natural gas prices turned out to be a costly mistake.

After leaving Mesa, Pickens in 1996 started BP Capital Management, a billion-dollar hedge fund focused on energy commodities and equities that delivered mammoth gains.

There were difficult times in his personal life. In 2005, Pickens looked on as one of his sons, Michael, was arrested on securities-fraud charges — he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to repay $1.2 million.

Pickens owned a ranch in the Texas Panhandle, another in Oklahoma, and a vacation retreat in Palm Springs, California.

After his fall in July 2017, he wrote on Linkedin that he was still mentally strong, but "I clearly am in the fourth quarter."

___

Associated Press writers David Koenig and David Warren in Dallas and Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, and former AP writer Betsy Blaney contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Death / Obits News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
T. Boone Pickens, oilman and renewables advocate, dies at 91
T. Boone Pickens, who amassed a fortune as an oil tycoon and corporate raider and gave much of it away as a philanthropist, has died
6:39PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Government plans to ban flavors used in e-cigarettes
The federal government will act to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes, a move by President Donald Trump in response to a recent surge in underage vaping.
6:35PM ( 11 minutes ago )
House approves oil drilling ban off Atlantic, Pacific coasts
The House has approved legislation that would permanently bar drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and extend a moratorium on drilling off Florida's west coast
6:28PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Tentative list of the missing in Bahamas has 2,500 names
The Bahamas government says there are 2,500 people on its list of those reported missing after Hurricane Dorian, though it cautions that the names haven't yet been checked against rosters of people evacuated from the islands or staying in shelters
5:46PM ( 59 minutes ago )
5 people stabbed in Tallahassee, suspect in custody
Authorities in Florida's capital say a man ordered to leave a construction-supply business after quarreling with co-workers returned minutes later and stabbed five people
5:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
On 9/11, Trump consoles victims, has tough words for Taliban
A somber President Donald Trump observed the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Wednesday as the dark cloud of the unrelenting war in Afghanistan looms especially large
5:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Chinese businesswoman convicted in Mar-a-Lago trespass case
A Chinese businesswoman has been convicted of trespassing at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club and lying to Secret Service agents.
5:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
Bill giving protections to Uber drivers, others moves ahead
California lawmakers have sent the governor a bill that would give new wage and benefit protections to workers at so-called gig economy companies such as Uber and Lyft
4:35PM ( 2 hours ago )
Few turn out as Mugabe is returned to a Zimbabwe in crisis
The body of Zimbabwe's longtime ruler Robert Mugabe has arrived in the capital, Harare, where it was met by the country's president and a full military delegation. Mugabe's body will be on display at historic locations before burial Sunday.
4:26PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Prison release imminent for reality star 'The Situation'
"Jersey Shore" cast member Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is about to regain his freedom
6:05PM ( 40 minutes ago )
VA may have to pay billions in vets' emergency care bills
The government may be required to pay billions of dollars in emergency care claims to veterans after a federal court ruled this week that the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly denied reimbursements for such care received at non-VA facilities
5:53PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Google advertising practices targeted in antitrust probe
State attorneys general investigating whether Google is engaged in monopolistic behavior are planning to take a deep look into the tech giant's advertising business
5:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
US stocks move higher as China eases trade tensions
Stocks are rising broadly on Wall Street in afternoon trading as investors welcome China's move to exempt some U.S. products from a recent round of tariffs
1:39PM ( 5 hours ago )
Apple takes on Netflix with a $5-a-month streaming service
Apple is finally taking on Netflix with its own streaming television service, offering it at the bargain price of $5 a month beginning on Nov. 1
1:05PM ( 5 hours ago )
Hong Kong stock exchange swoops in for London rival
The Hong Kong stock exchange wants to buy its London counterpart to create a $70 billion-company, a bold move that faces significant hurdles
12:55PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Europe eyes stimulus plan, but ultra-low rates raise doubts
Europe eyes stimulus plan, but can central banks help when rates are already low?
2:15PM ( 4 hours ago )
As Europe eyes economic stimulus, Trump says why not US?
The European Central Bank appears to be preparing a new shot of stimulus to prop up the economy, amid broader questions about whether central banks like the ECB and the U.S. Federal Reserve can re-energize global growth on their own.
10:47AM ( 7 hours ago )
ECB faces key stimulus decision as Draghi era nears end
European Central Bank head Mario Draghi is likely preparing a new shot of stimulus for the economy, though doubts are growing about whether central banks can save the global economy by themselves.
9:26AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Dems question Trump official on lands, Native Americans
Congressional Democrats are questioning a Trump administration official's commitment to public lands and his attitude toward Native Americans
7:43PM ( 23 hours ago )
Wisconsin man accused in illegal THC vaping cartridge scheme
A Wisconsin man is accused of running a 10-man operation that manufactured thousands of vaping cartridges loaded with THC oil every day for almost two years
5:15PM ( 1 day ago )
SC to consider abortion ban; bill faces uncertain future
A small group of state senators are holding a hearing over whether South Carolina should follow the lead of other states and ban nearly all abortions
2:40PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Government plans to ban flavors used in e-cigarettes
The federal government will act to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes, a move by President Donald Trump in response to a recent surge in underage vaping.
6:35PM ( 11 minutes ago )
House approves oil drilling ban off Atlantic, Pacific coasts
The House has approved legislation that would permanently bar drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and extend a moratorium on drilling off Florida's west coast
6:28PM ( 18 minutes ago )
NCAA urges California governor not to sign 'fair pay' bill
NCAA's Board of Governors urges Gov. Gavin Newsom not to sign California bill that would allow college athletes to receive money for their names, likenesses or images
6:27PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Michael Kors pays tribute to American style on 9/11
Michael Kors' draws inspiration from his immigrant grandmother and America with a show that pays tribute to American fashion
6:23PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Supreme Court allows broad enforcement of asylum limits
The Supreme Court is allowing nationwide enforcement of a new Trump administration rule that prevents most Central American immigrants from seeking asylum in the United States
6:21PM ( 24 minutes ago )