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Pickens at the 2011 Time 100 gala
|Born||Thomas Boone Pickens, Jr.
May 22, 1928
Holdenville, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Alma mater||Oklahoma State University–Stillwater|
|Occupation||Chairman of BP Capital Management|
|Net worth||US$950 million |
|Spouse(s)||1) Lynn O'Brien (1949-1971)
2) Beatrice Carr (1972-1998)
3) Nelda Cain (2000-2004)
4) Madeleine Paulson (2005-2012)
5) Toni Brinker (2014 - present)
Thomas B. Pickens III
Early lifePickens was born in Holdenville, Oklahoma, the son of Grace (née Molonson) and Thomas Boone Pickens. His father worked as an oil and mineral landman (rights leaser). During World War II, his mother ran the local Office of Price Administration, rationing gasoline and other goods in three counties. Pickens was the first child born via Caesarean section in the history of Holdenville hospital.
At age 12, Pickens delivered newspapers. He quickly expanded his paper route from 28 papers to 156. Pickens later cited his boyhood job as an early introduction to "expanding quickly by acquisition", a business practice he favored later in life.
When the oil boom in Oklahoma ended in the late 1930s, Pickens' family moved to Amarillo, Texas. Pickens never served in the military but instead attended Texas A&M on a basketball scholarship, but he lost the scholarship and transferred to Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University), where he majored in geology. He is a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. He graduated from Oklahoma A&M with a degree in geology in 1951. Following his graduation, Pickens was employed by Phillips Petroleum. He worked for Phillips until 1954. In 1956, following his period as a wildcatter, he founded the company that would later become Mesa Petroleum.
CareerBy 1981, Mesa had grown into one of the largest independent oil companies in the world. Pickens led Mesa's first major acquisition, a takeover of the Hugoton Production Company, which was 30 times the size of Mesa. He then shifted his focus to acquiring other oil and gas companies by making solicited and unsolicited buyout bids and other merger and acquisition activity.
Pickens' corporate acquisitions made him a celebrity during the "deal-making" 1980s. His most publicized deals included attempted buyouts of Cities Service, Gulf Oil, Phillips Petroleum, and Unocal. It was during this period that Pickens led Mesa's successful acquisitions of Pioneer Petroleum and the mid-continent assets of Tenneco.
These as well as other deals placed Pickens at the center of controversy during the 1980s. His celebrity rose so quickly after the Gulf Oil takeover bid that Time magazine put Pickens on the cover for the March 1985 issue. He briefly considered running for president in the 1988 elections. During this period, he was often characterized as a corporate raider and greenmailer. This is due to the fact that many of his deals were not completed, although Pickens and the shareholders he represented received substantial profits through the eventual sale of their stock as a result. His later takeover targets included Newmont Mining, a New York-based firm, Diamond Shamrock, and Koito Mfg., Ltd., a Japanese auto-parts manufacturer, making substantial gains in the process. He was also involved in the creation of the United Shareholders Association (USA), which from 1986–1993 attempted to influence the governance of several large companies. After nearly two years of periodic hearing and debate, in July 1998 the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 4–1 to approve a one-share, one-vote rule, a primary USA objective.
On the local level, Pickens chaired the Board of Regents of West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University) in Canyon and in 1987–1988 contributed to the restoration of the administration building known as "Old Main". He was also active in the Republican Party in Potter County. Pickens organized a campaign in the mid-1980s against the Amarillo Globe-News newspaper, for what he claimed was inaccurate reporting about his deals and Mesa. Although the newspaper owner, Morris Communications, replaced its publisher twice during the conflict, Pickens' attempts to have the paper change its editorial policy failed. Shortly thereafter, in 1989, Pickens and Mesa moved to a suburb of Dallas. Pickens sold Mesa to Richard Rainwater in 1996. Mesa merged with Parker & Parsley Petroleum in 1997 to form Pioneer Natural Resources.
In 1997, Pickens founded BP Capital Management (then called BP Energy Fund) — the initials standing for "Boone Pickens" and not related to British Petroleum. He holds a 46% interest in the company which runs two hedge funds, Capital Commodity and Capital Equity, both of which invest primarily in traditional energy companies such as oil, natural gas, and nuclear power corporations like Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Shaw Group.
In 2006, Pickens earned $990 million from his equity in the two funds and $120 million from his share of the 20% fees applied to fund profits. In 2007, Pickens earned $2.7 billion, as BP Capital Equity Fund grew by 24% after fees, and the then $590 million Capital Commodity fund grew 40%, thanks to, among others, large positions in the stocks of Suncor Energy, ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum.
Pickens' most recent recognition comes from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. T. Boone Pickens received the 2009 Bower Award for Business Leadership for 50 years of visionary leadership in oil and other types of energy production, including domestic renewable energy, and for his philanthropic leadership contributing to education, medical research, and wildlife conservation. 
Natural gasIn his 2008 book, The First Billion is the Hardest, he noted a belief in the "peak oil" theory. He has since altered that position, noting technical achievements of the domestic oil and natural gas industries in utilizing horizontal drilling and fracking to unlock shale oil and gas reserves. He has called for the construction of more nuclear power plants, the use of natural gas to power the country's transportation systems, and the promotion of alternative energy. Pickens's involvement with the natural gas fueling campaign is long-running. He formed Pickens Fuel Corp. in 1997 and began touting natural gas as the best vehicular fuel alternative because it is a domestic resource that, among many advantages, is cleaner-burning (Natural Gas Vehicles or NGVs emit up to 30% less pollution than gasoline or diesel vehicles) and reduces foreign oil consumption. Reincorporated as Clean Energy Fuels Corp. in 2001, the company now owns and operates natural gas fueling stations from British Columbia to the Mexican border.
Political interests and contributionsSince 1980, Pickens has made over $5 million in political donations. He was a financial supporter of President George W. Bush and contributed heavily to both his Texas and national political campaigns. In 2004, Pickens contributed to Republican 527 groups, including a $2 million contribution to the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth which ran a campaign asserting that Bush's rival, John Kerry, exaggerated claims about his service in Vietnam, and $2.5 million to the Progress for America advocacy group. In 2005, Pickens was among 53 entities that contributed the maximum of $250,000 to Bush's second inauguration.
On July 16, 2007, Pickens wrote an article for National Review supporting Rudy Giuliani for President. "In Rudy Giuliani, a gracious and committed public servant I’ve known for many years, we see that rare blend of big-picture vision and proven track record of achieving the 'impossible.' We see a forward-looking, accomplished executive eager to tackle the challenges of today’s America and ensure that tomorrow we wake up stronger, freer, and more united than ever before." Pickens was an executive-committee member of the Rudy Giuliani presidential committee.
Pickens chaired the celebration of the 40th anniversary of The American Spectator, a conservative U.S. monthly magazine covering news and politics.
Pickens has focused his advocacy on alternative energy such as solar and wind. The Washington Post says that "perhaps the strangest role" Pickens "has fashioned for himself is his current one: the billionaire speculator as energy wise man, an oil-and-gas magnate as champion of wind power, and a lifetime Republican who has become a fellow traveler among environmentally minded Democrats – even though he helped finance the 'Swift boat' ads that savaged" Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign. In an editorial, The New York Times reported Pickens "has decided that drilling for more oil is not the whole answer to the nation's energy problems."
In the spring of 2010, Senator Kerry reached out to Mr. Pickens and encouraged his support of energy/climate change legislation he was drafting with Senators Lieberman and Graham. During a May 2010 meeting with reporters, Senator Kerry endorsed key provisions of “the Pickens Plan,” incorporating aspects of that in the Kerry-backed legislation calling for the greater use of domestic natural gas to replace foreign oil/diesel/gasoline in America’s heavy duty vehicle fleets.
Swift Boat challenge
Main article: Swift Boat challengeOn November 6, 2007, Pickens offered a million dollars to anyone able to dispute any claims made in political ads by the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth (SVPT), a group he had supported during the 2004 presidential election. John Kerry, whose military record and anti-war activism during Vietnam was the target of the group's book and media campaign, sent Pickens a letter on November 16, 2007, accepting the challenge, requesting that Pickens donate the money to the Paralyzed Veterans of America should he succeed in disproving any of the SVPT claims. In response to Kerry's acceptance of the challenge, Pickens issued a letter the same day, narrowing the original challenge to the SVPT ads, and requiring Kerry to provide his Vietnam journal, all of his military records, specifically those covering the years after his active duty service, and copies of all movies and tapes made during his service. Pickens' letter also challenged Kerry to agree to donate $1 million to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, if Kerry "cannot prove anything in the Swift Boat ads to be untrue." Kerry later accused Pickens of "parsing and backtracking" on his initial offer and wrote that "I am prepared to prove the lie and marshal all the evidence, the question is whether you are prepared to fulfill your obligation."
On June 22, 2008, a group of Vietnam veterans who previously served with and now work with Kerry accepted the challenge and sent a 12-page letter — with a 42-page attachment of military records to support their case — to rebut several of the accusations of the Swift boat group. Pickens has responded with a message stating "In reviewing your material, none of the information you provide speaks specifically to the issues contained in the ads,” he wrote, “and, as a result, does not qualify for the $1 million."
Lobbying efforts to stop horse slaughterPickens lobbied for the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 503) which would prohibit the slaughter for human consumption and the trade and transport of horse flesh and live horses intended for human consumption.
Attempt to sell natural gas with a California Ballot InitiativeIn November 2008, California voters rejected a referendum by a 60% to 40% margin regarding natural gas. Pickens owns Clean Energy Fuels Corporation, a natural gas fueling station company that was the primary backer of the November 2008 Proposition 10 on California's ballot. Much of the measure's sale of $5 billion in general fund bonds to provide alternative energy rebates and incentives ($9.8 billion after interest) would have benefitted Pickens' company to the exclusion of almost all other clean-vehicle fuels and technology.
PhilanthropyPickens has given more than $700 million away to charity, of which nearly $500 million has been donated to Oklahoma State University. Pickens is among the billionaires who have made The Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away half of his wealth for charitable purposes.[unreliable source?]
Donations to Oklahoma State UniversityStillwater campus of Oklahoma State University (OSU). Through his contributions, Pickens spearheaded an initiative to create an athletic village just north of the existing campus. In order to do so, hundreds of homes were acquired by the OSU administration, one via eminent domain, and demolished using Pickens' contributions.
Pickens' gift remains the largest donation to a university's athletic program in collegiate history. His total contributions to OSU come to over $400 million. Over $265 million, or 66%, of his donations have been towards athletics. Pickens also has made substantial academic gifts to Oklahoma State University, particularly to the School of Geology, which is named for him.
On December 30, 2005, Pickens made a $165 million gift to Oklahoma State University. The New York Times reported that "the money spent less than an hour on December 30 in the account of the university's charity, O.S.U. Cowboy Golf Inc., before it was invested in a hedge fund controlled by Mr. Pickens, BP Capital Management." Pickens, who is on the board of the O.S.U. Cowboy Golf, waived any management fees for the OSU monies. All profits of the fund go to growing the OSU gift. The gift is intended to help fund an upgrade of the football stadium and construction of an athletic village, but sparked controversy because OSU planned to use eminent domain to acquire residential property for the projects. The donation comes after a $70 million gift from Pickens to OSU in 2003, which was similarly structured using O.S.U. Cowboy Golf, Inc.
On July 28, 2007 the Board of Regents of Oklahoma State University approved a resolution to move $28 million from the OSU Foundation into Pickens' BP Capital Management company in Dallas. Oklahoma State has previously invested $277 million in the fund. Pickens has been waiving fees for the university's investments with his fund.
On May 21, 2008 Pickens donated $100 million to academics at Oklahoma State University. The gift will be matched by the state of Oklahoma.
In October, 2008 it was reported in the NY Times that due to the recent financial recession, some of Pickens's gifts to the athletic department had seen a large decline in their market value while being managed in his hedge funds. The same NY Times article noted that due to the worldwide recession, most other schools and charitable organizations were also experiencing problems with investments. The article also mentions that Pickens' management of donated funds had previously "turned $6 million into $31 million" for the school's athletic fund.