UPDATE 2-Talisman Energy to add two Icahn nominees to board

Mon Dec 2, 2013 12:17pm EST
 
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(Adds quotes and context on Talisman restructuring)

Dec 2 (Reuters) - Canadian oil producer Talisman Energy Inc is making room on its board for two members nominated by activist investor Carl Icahn, and one of them will sit on a search committee looking for a new chief executive.

In a statement released before the markets opened, Talisman said Samuel Merksamer and Jonathan Christodoro will join its board this month. Both are managing directors at Icahn Capital L.P., a unit of Icahn Enterprises L.P..

Many investors have been waiting for a move like this since October, when Icahn first said he had taken a stake in Talisman and intended to talk with the company's management about strategic alternatives.

The latest company filings show that Icahn holds 7.37 percent of Calgary-based Talisman, a chronic underformer in the Canadian oil patch. Talisman shares were up 3 percent at C$12.80 early on Monday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"Although board involvement was expected given Icahn's previously disclosed 7 percent equity stake in Talisman, we view this as positive as it represents another step toward Talisman's intentions to unlock shareholder value," RBC Capital Markets analyst Greg Pardy said in a note.

Talisman has been restructuring its operations to lower costs and boost its share price, announcing $1.5 billion in asset sales so far this year, including the sale of some of its natural gas assets in British Columbia's Montney field to Malaysia-controlled Progress Energy Canada Ltd.

The oil producer has said that Chief Executive Hal Kvisle will step down in 2014.

"I strongly believe in the potential of Talisman and I'm pleased to have reached this constructive outcome," Icahn said in the statement. (Reporting by Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore and Nia Williams in Calgary; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Peter Galloway)