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Mellon family shareholder opposes Gulf

By CYNTHIA PIECHOWIAK, UPI Business Writer

PITTSBURGH -- A granddaughter of former Gulf Oil Corp. chief William L. Mellon said Tuesday she opposes the No. 5 oil company's reorganization plan and has urged her influential relatives to consider doing the same.

Peggy Weisman, formerly Peggy Mellon Hitchcock, said she sent letters last week to 13 relatives saying she will vote against Gulf's controversial plan at a special shareholders' meeting Dec. 2.

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'I wanted to let everyone know what my feelings are and promote them to think independently,' said Mrs. Weisman, of Sparks, Md., near Baltimore.

Mrs. Weisman, 50, estimated her own and her two children's holdings at about 100,000 shares -- a tiny fraction of Gulf's 165 million outstanding shares.

But her stand could embarrass the Pittsburgh-based company, which has ties with the Mellon family stretching back to its founding at the turn of the century.

Gulf is seeking the support of all 300,000 shareholders in a massive battle against Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, leader of a dissident investment group holding 10.8 percent of Gulf's outstanding shares.

The company wants to reincorporate in Delaware so it can change shareholder voting rules and make it harder for outsiders like Pickens to gain a seat on the board of directors.

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Pickens, chairman of Mesa Petroleum Co. of Amarillo, Texas, has launched a counter-offensive to block the proposal.

Mrs. Weisman said Pickens convinced her in a recent meeting that his ideas -- including a tax shelter known as a royalty trust -- should be seriously considered.

'I think some new blood in the company would be a good thing,' she said. 'Over the past 20 years, their record is not the best.'

She said Gulf's plan to alter its voting rules may be a disadvantage to all shareholders.

William L. Mellon, Mrs. Weisman's grandfather, ran the company almost from its inception in 1902 until 1948. About 6.7 percent of Gulf's stock is held in trust at Pittsburgh-based Mellon Bank.

A Gulf spokesman said company managers plan to meet with Mrs. Weisman.

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