Saturday, October 16, 2004
Beldar confesses another VRWC link
I doubt there's room for it on the NYT's famous chart on the SwiftVets and those who've contributed financially to their campaign, but I hereby confess to another link to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy whose tentacles connect all the forces that seek Sen. Kerry's defeat in the upcoming election.
While I was an associate in the Trial Department of Houston's Baker Botts in the early and mid-1980s, I was among the many lawyers involved in representing Boone Pickens' Mesa Petroleum (and its various affiliates and deal partners) in a series of contested tender offers, including those for Gulf Oil, Phillips Petroleum, Unocal, and Newmont Mining. I've got dozens of trial lawyer war stories to tell from those days, but one quick one pops to mind in this political season.
During the Phillips tender offer, Phillips' New York counsel thought that they'd dig around in hopes of finding that Mr. Pickens had tipped off his longtime friends and poker-playing buddies in Amarillo with inside information about various of his deals, and so they initiated a round of nonparty depositions to grill those poker buddies about their conversations with Mr. Pickens and their own market activities. Mr. Pickens, of course, was and remains a controversial, almost mythical figure, but nobody has ever accused him of being pathologically stupid — which he'd have to have been to discuss his tender offer plans at a poker game. Indeed, Mr. Pickens' friends unanimously and adamantly insisted that he had not only a good poker face, but well knew how to keep his secrets, and Phillips' counsel turned up not a shred of evidence to support their theories. But they did manage to substantially annoy Mr. Pickens' friends and, of course, thereby to annoy Mr. Pickens through this harassment. Accordingly, although I didn't directly represent Mr. Pickens' friends, my assigned job on that particular deal was to attend, monitor, and report nightly on these depositions by telephone directly to Mr. Pickens. (I don't believe that I've ever met him in person.)
The Phillips deal took place during the 1984 Christmas season, and during a brief break in the depositions, I managed to get down from Amarillo to my dad's house in my hometown of Lamesa, a few hours' drive south. Now, my dad's always been proud of my accomplishments, but he doesn't play the market and had only the vaguest understanding of what these tender offers were all about. Millions, billions, arbs, investment bankers, Pac Man offers, white knights, poison pills — all Greek to my pa. But I'm pretty sure that the most impressed he's ever been with my career doings was on that frostly Christmas Eve, when he picked up his home phone to find that Mr. Pickens was on the other end, returning my call to report on the prior morning's deposition. "Was that really Boone Pickens calling you?" he wanted to know. I assured my dad that it had been. "And you gave him my phone number?" Ayup. "Well ... damn! T. Boone Pickens calling my house on Christmas Eve! How about that!" was all my dad could say for about the next half hour.
I rather doubt that my New York-based counterparts for Phillips had quite as merry Christmas Eve dinners in their Amarillo motel rooms. The local folks there, although unfailingly polite, had pegged them as Yankee Grinches. And while I don't know whether Santa left coal and switches in their stockings, they were a cheerless bunch as we resumed the depositions on Boxing Day.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar confesses another VRWC link and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
Ah, the indomitable T. Boone Pickens. Man that guy's career offered case study after case study for people studying finance and corporate law. Simply a legend.
Perhaps nobody but me is impressed by this story (although of course Pickens employed hundreds if not thousands of attorneys through the years). As a student of Econ, Finance and Law I must admit I'm jealous. Fantastic.
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