- Pickens was known as a corporate raider in the 1980s, targeting Gulf Oil, Unocal and Phillips Petroleum, a company later targeted by Icahn.
- The companies became Mesa Petroleum, which Pickens took public in 1964 and became one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the United States.
- After accumulating more than 5% of Cities Service stock over the years, Pickens led Mesa's attempt in 1982 to acquire the much larger oil company.
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