Houston Oilfield Services CEO leaves with large severance

Brian Hanson, the CEO of ION Geophysical has ‘retired’, effective June 1, to be replaced by Chris Usher, VP of Operations Optimization.

ION (market cap $103 million) has its head office in west Houston and provides products and services related to seismic data acquisition and processing.

Mr Hanson joined ION as its CFO in 2006 and became the CEO in 2011. He had a base salary of $600,000. Mr Hanson has signed a separation agreement that gives him:

  • severance payment of $2.4 million, payable over a 2-year period.
  • $250,000 representing pro-rata share of Mr Hanson’s 2019 target annual bonus payment
  • continuing healthcare coverage for 48 months
  • 120,000 restricted shares that become fully vested (worth almost $1.1 million).
  • 25,000 stock options that become fully vested.  The options are in the money and are currently worth about $142,000

When Mr Hanson was appointed CEO, the company had a market capitalization of $557 million. For 2018, the company had revenue of $180 million, EBITDA of $43 million and a net loss of $71 million.

Mr Usher started his career at WesternGeco and has worked at a number of seismic companies.

As an aside, in June, ION lost a case at the Supreme Court. WesternGeco had filed a lawsuit in 2009, alleging infringement of various patents. The Supreme Court ruled that a patent owner may recover lost foreign profits for infringement. A lower court had originally awarded WesternGeco $94 million in lost profits. Subsequently 4 of the 5 patents have been invalidated by the Patent Office, so the damages that ION may have to pay are likely to be much lower.

WesternGeco was owned by Schlumberger until it was sold in August 2018 to Shearwater GeoServices, a Norwegian company, for $600 million.

SEC filing


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