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Talisman Energy adds Icahn-backed board directors

NEW YORK (AP) -- Talisman Energy Inc. said Monday that it has put two directors backed by Carl Icahn on its board, as the billionaire investor accumulates a bigger stake in the Canadian oil and gas company.

Icahn is known for investing in companies and shaking them up through his pursuit of leadership and other dramatic changes. In October, Talisman shares surged when Icahn tweeted that he had accumulated a nearly 6 percent stake in the company. A regulatory filing on Monday disclosed that Icahn now has a 7.37 stake.

Shares of Talisman Energy gained 2 percent to $12.12 shortly after the opening bell. The stock bottomed at a 52-week low of $10.34 in August but spiked to a year-high of $13.38 in October following Icahn's interest and is now up about 7 percent year-to-date.

Talisman is adding Samuel Merksamer and Jonathan Christodoro to its board this month as part of an agreement with Icahn and his affiliates. Merksamer and Christodoro are managing directors at Icahn Capital LP, a unit of Icahn Enterprises.

Director Kevin Dunne's term is ending soon and he will retire, leaving 14 members on the board. Talisman previously announced that President and CEO Hal Kvisle plans to step down at some point next year. It said its succession plan is underway, but didn't disclose any further details.

Kvisle has set a target of $2 billion to $3 billion in asset sales as he seeks to pare back and simplify holdings. The company last month agreed to sell part of its land in British Columbia to Progress Energy for about $1.5 billion.