June 3, 2020 / 10:25 PM / in a month

UPDATE 1-Occidental, its share price battered, reports resounding election for directors

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HOUSTON, June 3 (Reuters) - Occidental Petroleum Corp , whose share price was battered last year after a controversial merger with Anadarko Petroleum Corp, said on Wednesday its directors were elected last week by a comfortable margin in a shareholder vote of confidence.

The votes came in the first annual meeting held since the U.S. oil and gas company’s $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko, an ill-timed bet on rising shale oil prices that has knocked its share price by 78% since its interest was first disclosed.

Chief Executive Vicki Hollub, who has come under fire for her pursuit of the Anadarko deal, received 91% of shareholder support, up from 78% last year. She received 99.7% in 2018.

An advisory vote on executive compensation was lukewarm, though, with 76% in favor, down from 88% last year and 96% in 2018.

Shareholders approved all Occidental board members by an average of 92%, up from 78.4% last year.

Directors typically receive about 90% favorable votes, with anything around 70% considered a warning from shareholders, said David Larcker, an accounting professor at Stanford University who studies corporate governance.

New directors include Stephen Chazen, a former CEO of Occidental, appointed as board chairman, who received 87.5% support. Three directors affiliated with billionaire activist Carl Icahn received an average of 90% shareholder approval.

Icahn last year launched a proxy fight in opposition to the Anadarko deal. To settle the fight, Occidental agreed to nominate two Icahn associates and give him a say in a third.

All of Occidental’s proxy items passed in Friday’s shareholder meeting, but vote counts were not immediately disclosed.

Shareholders by 80% approved the issue of 400 million new shares.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc last year bought $10 billion worth of Occidental’s preferred shares to help finance the Anadarko deal. It agreed to take Occidental common shares in lieu of a first-quarter cash dividend. (Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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