Tag Archives: CEO

CEO departs oilfield services company

Holli Ladhani has left her role as CEO of Select Energy Services. She is replaced by Chairman and former CEO John Schmitz.



The company, which has its head office in the Galleria area, provides water management solutions to the oil and gas industry. It went public in early 2017 and acquired Rockwater later that year for $620 million in an all-stock transaction.

In the first quarter of 2020, it wrote off all $267 million of goodwill associated with that transaction. The company has a market capitalization of $422 million. Unusually, as of September 2020, the company had cash on hand of $185 million and no debt.

Prior to the Select/Rockwater merger in November 2017, Mr. Schmitz was the CEO of Select and Ms. Ladhani was the CEO of Rockwater. After the deal closed, Mr. Schmitz became executive Chairman.

Ms. Ladhani joined Rockwater as CFO in 2011 and became CEO in May 2015. Prior to that, she  had been the CFO of Dynegy.

Ms. Ladhani will receive a cash severance of $3.2 million. That appears to be 2x base salary ($725,000) plus 2x target bonus ($725,000) plus her earned bonus for 2020.

SEC filing – Select Energy CEO transition

CEO at struggling LNG company steps down

Meg Gentle has stepped down as CEO of Tellurian. She has been replaced by Octavio Simões. He joined the company in 2019 and was most recently its VP of Marketing and Business Development. Prior to that, he was the CEO of Sempra LNG & Midstream.



The current chairman of Tellurian is Charif Souki. He was a co-founder of Cheniere and its CEO from 2002 until he was forced out in 2015.  He formed Tellurian in 2016 with a plan to build a LNG terminal in Louisiana called the Driftwood Project.

Ms. Gentle has been the CEO since August 2016 and, prior to that, spent 12 years at Cheniere. No reason was given for her departure but it appears to be related to the stalled progress on the Driftwood Project. For the 2019 financial year, the Board did not give bonuses to Ms. Gentle and most other senior executives because the company failed to achieve ‘Final investment decision’ (FID) on the project. In other words, they didn’t secure enough firm long-term contracts with customers to allow construction to start.

Petronet pulls out

In early November, Petronet of India decided not to invest in the project. They had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tellurian back in September 2019 to take a $2.5 billion stake in the company. The MOU was announced during the visit to Houston by Narendra Modi, Indian Prime Minister.

The stock price of Tellurian was around $8 until doubts about the Petronet deal began to surface in February. It is currently $1.49.

Severance

Ms. Gentle will continue to receive her annual salary of $721,000 through December 2021. She was also get a future lump sum of $721,000. She also retains 3.25 million shares of restricted stock, other options and awards that will vest upon FID. These could be worth up to $21 million.

Mr Simões will receive a base salary of $725,000.

SEC filing – Tellurian CEO

Energy CEO rehired after 5-year SEC ban

Houston American Energy has rehired John Terwilliger as its new CEO. In April 2015, Mr Terwilliger was banned from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).



Houston American has a market capitalization of $10 million. It has working interests in four wells in Texas and Louisiana as well as some undeveloped acreage in Columbia. It went public in 2006. Mr Terwilliger is the largest single shareholder, owning 13.6% of the common stock

In August 2014, the SEC announced charges against the company and Mr Terwilliger. The charges alleged that, back in 2009, Mr Terwilliger claimed that a concession in Columbia was worth more than $100 per share. The SEC alleged that the valuation was wildly inflated and not based on any technical evaluation. During this time, the stock price rose from $4 to $20 and the company raised $13 million in a stock offering. The operator eventually drilled three dry wells and the concession produced no oil.

Shortly before a trial was due to start in January 2015, the parties settled. Without admitting or denying liability, the company paid a penalty of $400,000 and Mr Terwilliger agreed to resign as CEO and pay a penalty of $150,000.

Mr Terwilliger founded Houston American in 2001. At the time, he was also the founder and CEO of Moose Oil and Gas. Moose entered Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2002. The bankruptcy trustee later alleged that Mr Terwilliger diverted funds from Moose to pay for the start-up legal and professional fees of Houston American. This case was also settled without admitting or denying liability.

 

SEC filing – Terwilliger CEO

Medical device start-up appoints new CEO

Soliton has appointed Brad Hauser as its new CEO, replacing Dr Chris Capelli, who becomes Chief Science Officer. The company is a medical device start-up that has its head office near Bellaire.



The company uses technology licensed from MD Anderson Cancer Center. Its main device uses rapid pulses of designed acoustic shockwaves to disrupt cellular and subcellular structures. The company believes that the technology can be used for tattoo removal, cellulite reduction and fibrotic scar treatment. As yet, the company has not recorded any revenue.

The company went public in February 2019, raising $11 million at $5 per share.  It subsequently raised another $35 million in June at $8.30 per share.  The current share price is $7.12.

Mr Hauser has been a non-executive director of the company since June 2018. His day job was the Vice President, R&D and General Manager for CoolSculpting, a technology that reduces fat by non-surgical methods. CoolSculpting was developed  by Zeltiq Aesthetics, which was acquired by Allergan for $2.4 billion in 2017.

Mr Hauser will receive a base salary of $475,000. He will also receive a restricted stock grant of 200,000 shares that will vest over four years.

Dr Capelli will maintain his current salary of $450,000 in his new role.

SEC filing – Soliton CEO

 

Weatherford appoints new CEO

Weatherford has appointed Girish Saligram as its new CEO, effective October 12, 2020. He replaces Mark McCollum, who left abruptly in June.

Mr Saligram is currently the COO at Exterran Corporation, a Houston-based public company. Prior to joining Exterran in 2016, he spent 20 years at GE. His last role there was as General Manager, Downstream Products and Services.



Compensation package

Mr Saligram will receive;

  • a base salary of $825,000 (a $200,000 raise on his role at Exterran).
  • a long-term cash incentive award of $3.5 million that will vest over 3 years.
  • a sign-on cash bonus of $400,000
  • $400,000 in restricted stock units that will vest over 3 years
  • $400,000 in performance stock units that will vest, depending on the share price.

In the event of a termination without cause, Mr Saligram will receive severance of one times base salary and target bonus (125% of base salary). If the termination is the result of a change of control, he will receive two times base and target bonus.

Once Mr Saligram starts, Karl Blanchard, the current interim CEO, will return to his former role of COO. Keith Jennings, the new CFO, started at the beginning of September.

Post-bankruptcy woes

Weatherford filed for bankruptcy in July 2019 and emerged on December 13, 2019. Debt was reduced from $8.0 billion to $2.2 billion with the bondholders owning 94% of the equity of the newly reorganized company.

At the end of August, the company issued $500 million in new notes due 2024 at 8.75% interest. The company used those proceeds to pay off a US-based credit agreement that was only entered into in December 2019. Due to the pandemic, the company faced a declining collateral base but Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank, the agents for the credit facility, refused to discuss any material covenant modifications.

SEC filing – Weatherford CEO appointment

CEO out at Houston E&P company

Darrin Henke has been appointed the new CEO at Penn Virginia, replacing John Brooks, who had been the CEO since August 2017.

Penn Virginia has its head office in west Houston and has acreage in the Eagle Ford basin. The company was founded in 1882 in Philadelphia and began life leasing coal properties. In the 1980’s it acquired oil and gas companies and later spun off the coal operations. The company went bankrupt in 2016 and exited a few months later, having eliminated $1.1 billion in debt. As part of the restructuring, it moved its head office to Houston.



Takeover by Denbury

In October 2018, Denbury Resources announced it would buy Penn Virginia for $1.7 billion, including $400 million in cash. The deal collapsed in March 2019, as major shareholders of Penn Virginia thought the deal undervalued the company (oops!). Penn Virginia currently has a market capitalization of $157 million (and debt of $563 million). Denbury filed for bankruptcy last month.

Current activity

In April, the company elected to suspend all drilling and completions operations. In June it resumed such operations with the completion of three wells drilled but not completed. The company also took out PPP loans of over $1 million, but elected to pay them back, rather than seek forgiveness.

Compensation

Mr Henke joins from Gary Petroleum, a private E&P company, where he was CEO for almost five years. Prior to that, he worked for Encana for 11 years. His base salary will be $500,000. Mr Henke was also granted 115,000 restricted stock units (worth over $1 million). 50% will vest over three years, the rest dependent on performance.

Mr Brooks, who joined the company in 2002, will receive a lump-sum payment of $690,000 (1.5 times base salary). He will also get a pro-rated bonus for 2020 (for reference, thee 2019 bonus paid was over $400,000). 34,000 restricted stock units also vest, worth over $350,000.

In November 2019, the company replaced its CFO.

SEC filing – Penn Virginia CEO

CEO resigns from specialty ingredient company after poor results

Brent Rystrom has resigned from his position as CEO of RiceBran Technologies after poor second quarter results. The company also announced that it had hired BMO Capital Markets to review strategic alternatives.



RiceBran is a manufacturer and marketer of products derived from rice bran. These are sold to food and animal nutrition manufacturers and retailers. The company moved its head office from Sacramento to The Woodlands in June 2018 so that it could be nearer the supply of rice in Arkansas and Louisiana. The company has revenues and a market capitalization of around $25 million.

Mr Rystrom became the CEO in October 2018. He joined the company as CFO in March 2017. He will receive a severance package of 90 days of base salary. Mr Rystrom will provide consulting services through the end of the year.

Peter Bradley, who joined the Board of Directors in July 2019, has been appointed Chairman and Chief Executive.

In the second quarter, the business had a negative gross profit margin of 20% as it got squeezed at both ends in the pandemic. Surging consumer demand for rice resulted in both large price increases and shortages for rough rice (a raw material input). As a result, the company had trouble maintaining output at its Arkansas mill. Customer development also slowed.

CEO steps down at Electrical Contractor

Gary Matthews has resigned as the CEO of IES Holdings, Inc. He was in the role for 18 months. He has also resigned from the Board of Directors. Jeff Gendell, Chairman of the Board, and effectively the majority shareholder, has been appointed interim CEO.



IES has its head office in the Galleria area. It provides electrical contracting and other infrastructure services to a variety of end markets. It has approximately 5,400 employees.

The company is doing reasonably well currently. For its most recent quarter, it had revenues of $291 million and an operating profit of $9.2 million. It had record backlog and most importantly, a net cash balance of $15 million.

Resigned or pushed out?

It is not clear whether Mr Matthews resigned or was pushed out. The company issued a press release quoting Mr Gendell as saying ‘As we planned for the future, Gary determined that this was the appropriate time for a leadership transition’.  Mr Matthews left the company on July 31 and the company appointed an interim CEO, so it’s not a planned leadership transition! I guess Mr Matthews fell out with the Chairman.

Severance

The company didn’t state whether Mr Matthews would get a severance or what would happen to his outstanding stock awards. In fact the most recent proxy statement didn’t include a table listing potential payments in the event of a departure of an executive. Previous proxy statements filed by IES have.

The previous CEO, Robert Lewey, who stepped down in March 2019,  got a cash severance payment of $875,000 that comprised of one years salary ($523,000) and a pro-rated bonus for the year.

Mr Matthews, who joined the company from Morgan Stanley Capital Partners, had a base salary of $650,000. As of September 2019, he had about $1.6 million in equity that had not vested.

SEC filing — IES CEO transition

 

Centerpoint appoints former Halliburton executive as its new CEO

Former Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar has been appointed the new CEO at Centerpoint Energy. He replaces Scott Prochazka, who left in February. He has been a non-Executive director since May.

Centerpoint is an electric and gas utility that serves more than 7 million metered customers in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.



Mr Lesar joined Halliburton in 1993 and was Chairman and CEO from 2000 to 2017. For the past year he has been serving as the interim CEO at Health Care Service Corporation, the largest private health insurer in the US.

Compensation package

In his new role, Mr Lesar will receive a base salary of $1.35 million (same base as his predecessor). He will also receive a sign-on equity award of $1 million that will vest over three years. The company will also facilitate the relocation of Mr Lesar from Dallas to Houston by buying his Dallas residence for $1.2 million. (The head office of Halliburton was in Dallas until it moved to Houston in 2002).

Executive changes

Centerpoint has been in some turmoil recently. Former CEO Prochazka left with a cash severance payment of $7.3 million. He was also received the vesting of stock awards ($4.7 million) and the continued vesting of performance share units (could be worth up to $7.9 million).

In April, Xia Liu, the CFO, bolted after less than a year in the role, for a similar role at WEC Energy. Kristie Colvin, the Chief Accounting Officer, was appointed the interim CFO, pending the appointment of a new CEO.

In February, the company announced the sale of its Infrastructure Services and Energy Services divisions, in two separate transactions, for a combined $1.3 billion. The divisions made up about a third of Centerpoint’s total revenues, but weren’t very profitable. The company took a loss on sale of $234 million, after taking into account goodwill impairment.

Activist Investor

In May, Centerpoint also received new equity funding of $1.4 billion from a group of investors  that includes activist investor, Elliott Management. Elliott first invested in Centerpoint in 2015.

Elliott appears to be following a similar playbook to its investment in NRG Energy in 2017. NRG has its head office in New Jersey and its operations in Houston. It took over the retail operations of Houston’s Reliant Energy in 2009. It then overstretched itself after a series of acquisitions. Elliott’s pressure forced it into cost cutting and asset sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if Centerpoint is taken over within the next couple of years.

SEC Filing – Centerpoint appoints Lesar as CEO

 

 

 

Biopharma CEO leaves after 3 months

A big shake-up at Aravive results in CEO Rekha Hemrajani leaving the company, along with Chairman and former CEO Jay Shepard. Two other directors are also leaving the Board.



Investor and Pharma veteran Fredric Eshelman has bought $5 million of shares (just over 5%) in the company and installed himself as Non-Exec Chairman.

Aravive is a clinical stage biotechnology company, focusing on developing therapies for solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. It has its head office in downtown Houston. It went public in October 2018 via a reverse takeover.

Ms Hemrajani only joined the company in January 2020. She worked out of the company’s Palo Alto office. She came from Arcus Biosciences where she had been COO and CFO. Ms Hemrajani will receive a severance payment ($237,500) equivalent to six months salary as well as the accelerated vesting of 35,750 shares (worth about $250,000).

Dr Gail McIntrye has been promoted from Chief Scientific Officer to CEO. She has worked with the new chairman at two previous companies.

SEC filing – Aravive CEO