Icahn agrees to respond to Kerr-McGee lawsuit next week

Saturday, March 19th 2005, 11:56 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Billionaire investor Carl Icahn and his associates agreed to file their responses to Kerr-McGee's lawsuit on Monday.

The Oklahoma City-based energy company asked the judge late Thursday to expedite the process and require Icahn and his co-defendants to respond by Friday rather than allowing them the typical extended response time.

Icahn objected to Kerr-McGee's timeframe but said he could respond by Monday. U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard approved Icahn's request.

Kerr-McGee spokeswoman Debbie Schramm said the company asked for the process to proceed more quickly than usual in hopes that a decision would be reached before the company's May 10 shareholders meeting.

In the lawsuit filed last week, Kerr-McGee alleges Icahn and his associates broke federal antitrust laws and violated the company's bylaws in their efforts to buy more than a 7.6 percent stake in the company and nominate their own directors to the company's board.

Kerr-McGee has asked the judge to bar Icahn and his associates from voting with shares they recently acquired and is seeking to have their nominations as directors nullified.

Icahn's attorneys have said Kerr-McGee's lawsuit is without substance.

``There is no merit to their claims, and we'll respond in court accordingly,'' Ted Altman, a New York attorney representing Icahn and his associates, told The Oklahoman.

Also on Friday, Kerr-McGee revealed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that the company spent more than $85 million in payroll and benefits for its 600 Oklahoma employees in 2004.

The company also paid $10 million in state taxes and bought $59 million in Oklahoma goods and services during the year. Kerr-McGee said it also donated $1.98 million to Oklahoma educational, community and nonprofit organizations in the year.

Schramm said the company produced the fact sheet in response to elected officials and community leaders who have requested the information.

``We filed this material with the SEC in the context that the sheet could be seen as material to solicit proxies to vote for Kerr-McGee's directors,'' Schramm said. ``The rule requires us to file all written soliciting materials.''