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T. Boone Pickens — Oil Tycoon, Corporate Raider And Hedge Fund Manager — Dies At 91

T. Boone Pickens — Oil Tycoon, Corporate Raider And Hedge Fund Manager — Dies At 91

Energy industry pioneer, hedge fund manager, corporate raider and philanthropist T. Boone Pickens has died. He was 91.

Pickens’ foundation and his spokesman announced he died Wednesday in Dallas from natural causes. Pickens had suffered in recent months from a series of strokes and head injuries sustained in a 2017 fall.

Pickens had built a net worth of about $3 billion after quitting a corporate job at age 25 with $1,500 and setting out to find oil and gas with his company Mesa Petroleum. He gave much of his fortune away, and was estimated to be worth about $500 million in 2016.

Pickens was perhaps best known, however, for his series of brash takeover attempts in the 1980s, as he tried to acquire much bigger companies, including Gulf Oil and Phillips Petroleum. He would often be unsuccessful, but sell shares back to the company, making a fortune as he dropped the hostile takeover bids.

The New York Times reported he would sometimes cover Mesa’s overhead expenses by cashing in on the commodities market.

Pickens lost a fortune on bad natural gas investments in the 1990s, but became a hedge fund manager, reinventing himself in his 70s as the chairman of BP Capital Management. Over the years he gave away more than $1 billion by some accounts. Among his gifts was more than $500 million given to his alma mater Oklahoma State University.

In 2008, Pickens launched a grass-roots campaign aimed at reducing American dependence on foreign oil. Pickens also became a converted champion of renewable energy.

Pickens, the only child of an oil and gas man, was born in 1928 in Holdenville, Oklahoma. His mother ran the gas rationing coupon program in a part of the state during World War II.

After college he began his career at Phillips, which he would later try to take over. He left to start his own company, and eventually took his first company public, in 1964.

He is survived by five children and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. The Pickens Foundation said plans for memorial services in Dallas and Stillwater are pending.

Photo credit: Center for American Progress Action Fund


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