In a filing this morning with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) reported that activist investor Carl Icahn now owns a stake amounting to 1.56% of Transocean’s issued shares. Icahn also holds options to acquire another 1.7% of the company’s shares.
Transocean also said that Icahn has notified the company of his intention to seek approval to make purchases of company stock that exceed the Hart-Scott-Rodino threshold of $682.1 million. Transocean said that Icahn’s upper limit would be less than the HSR limit of 25% of outstanding voting shares.
The timing on this is interesting. Earlier this month Transocean settled U.S. Justice Department civil and criminal claims for $1.4 billion and a plea of guilty to one misdemeanor charge. With that settlement done, Icahn likely reckons that it is time for Transocean to get back to making money for shareholders. With offshore drilling expected to get most of the capital spending for oil and as exploration and productiion companies in 2013 and day rates for offshore rigs rising, that is not a bad bet.
Transocean’s shares traded at more than $85 apiece just prior to the explosion and sinking of its Deepwater Horizon platform in April of 2010, and closed at just over $54 on Friday. The disaster cost 11 workers their lives and dumped 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP PLC (NYSE: BP) leased the rig from Transocean, which was also the operator. BP has paid out $4.5 billion to settle criminal charges related to the disaster, and the company’s total potential payout could be far higher.
Transocean’s shares are up 3.3% in premarket trading this morning, at $55.89 in a 52-week range of $39.32 to $59.03.