Tag Archives: CFO

Small E&P company adds CFO

US Energy (market cap $37 million) has appointed Mark Zajac as its new CFO. Ryan Smith, who had been CFO since May 2017, was appointed CEO in December 2019. He had been combining the two roles since then.

The company has its head office just west of the Galleria area. Historically it had interests in the Williston Basin, North Dakota and South Texas. However, in 2022 it completed a deal for about $100 million where the sellers sold their properties in the Permian and the Mid-Continent in return for an 80% equity stake in US Energy. The company has since made a couple of smaller bolt-on acquisitions.

Mr. Zajac retired from KPMG in February 2021 where he was a Partner and National Audit Industry Leader for Oil and Gas. He will receive a base salary of $255,000.

SEC filing – 8-K US Energy CFO

NRG replaces CFO as it faces pressure from activist investor again

NRG Energy, which has its head office in downtown Houston, has announced that Bruce Chung will replace Alberto Fornaro as its CFO. Mr. Chung is currently the VP of Strategy and M&A and is based in New York. Mr. Fornaro will stay on in an advisory capacity until September 1, 2023.

NRG is an integrated power company that has most of its retail customers in Texas. For a long time it had dual headquarters in New Jersey and Houston. This arose after NRG bought the retail electricity business of Houston-based Reliant Energy in 2009.  The company also bought Houston-based Direct Energy from BG in January 2021 for $3.7 billion. It currently has a market capitalization of $7.5 billion.

In December 2022, NRG agreed to buy Vivint, a smart home platform company, for $2.8 billion in cash. Investors didn’t understand the strategy, the stock plunged 15% and hasn’t recovered.

That attracted the attention of activist investor, Elliott Investment Management, who took a 13% stake and sent a letter to the directors last month, demanding that they make changes. This isn’t the first time that Elliott has taken an interest in NRG. In 2017,  Elliott took a stake in NRG after a similar diversification strategy had left the company with high debt. Elliott worked with NRG to refocus the company.

Mr. Fornaro joined as CFO exactly two years ago. Prior to joining NRG he was CFO at Coupang, a Korean e-commerce company. He joined in February 2020 and left by December for reasons unknown. Coupang went on to complete its IPO in March 2021 with a $60 billion valuation.

Mr. Fornaro had a base salary of $737,760 and a received a $1 million sign-on bonus (half paid when he joined, half in June 2022).

The current filing doesn’t explicitly state his severance but according to the recent proxy statement, he will receive 18 months of severance ($1.1 million).

Mr Chung has been with the company since 2008, except for a 7 month stint in 2016 with an investment firm. He has worked in both Houston and New Jersey. He will receive a base salary of $700,000.

SEC filing – NRG Energy Chung CFO

Tellurian appoints Investment Banker as its new CFO

Tellurian has appointed Simon Oxley as its new CFO. He replaces Kian Granmayeh, who resigned in March to become the CFO at Carriage Services, another Houston company. Khaled Sharafeldin, who was interim CFO, reverts back to previous role of Chief Accounting Officer.

Tellurian is trying to build an LNG export plant in Driftwood, Louisiana and needs about $13 billion in financing to do so. It had agreements in place last year with Shell and Vitol for each to buy 3 million metric tons a year. Those deals fell apart.  It’s only deal currently is a similar-sized deal with Gunvor. However, Gunvor can walk away anytime as Tellurian missed a February deadline to secure financing.

It seems that higher interest rates and the tightening credit markets are causing the banks to push for more equity funding in the project. Tellurian has said it is seeking equity partners willing to invest about $2 billion to $2.5 billion.

Mr. Oxley is based in London and is the Managing Director and Co-Head of Oil & Gas Investment Banking for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Barclays Investment Bank. In that role, he led a number of liquified natural gas (LNG) related transactions. That experience will be invaluable for Tellurian. Mr. Oxley has a Chemical Engineering degree from Edinburgh University.

Mr. Oxley will receive a base salary of $525,000. He also receives 200,000 shares of common stock (current trading price $1.32). He will also receive a grant of 200,000 shares of restricted stock that will vest upon a final investment decision for Driftwood.

It’s not clear whether Mr. Oxley will relocate to Houston. I guess he will remain in London in the short term as the company has upcoming deadlines. Last month, Tellurian said it entered into a binding letter of intent (sounds like an oxymoron) with an unnamed institutional investor for the sale and leaseback of 800 acres at Driftwood for $1 billion.  However, the deal is contingent on Tellurian securing financing commitments for Phase 1 by July 14.

The land at Driftwood was bought for $52 million and construction-in-progress was $351 million at March 31, 2023. So it’s understanding that the sale-leaseback is contingent on the project getting financed.

SEC filing – 8-K Oxley appointment

Amplify Energy appoints new CFO

Amplify Energy has appointed Jim Frew as its new CFO. He replaces Jason McGlynn who resigned last month to become the CFO at Monarch Bioenergy.

Amplify Energy was formed in 2019 from the all-stock merger of Tulsa-based Midstates Petroleum and what was Memorial Production Partners. It has its head office in downtown Houston.

The company primarily operates mature wells in Oklahoma and East Texas, though last week it announced that it had received the required regulatory approvals to restart its operations in offshore Southern California. See my post last month for the background on this.

Previously, Mr. Frew worked for Linn Energy between 2011 and 2018 in Business Development and as VP of Marketing and Midstream. He was the CFO of Riviera Resources, which was spun out of Linn, from August 2018 to October 2020. Linn Energy grew rapidly by acquisitions between 2007 and 2014 before filing for bankruptcy in 2016 with debts of over $8 billion. Riviera ended up selling all its assets and liquidating itself (outside bankruptcy) in 2020.

Mr. Frew and Martyn Willsher, the Amplify CEO, worked together at JM Huber earlier in their careers. Most recently, Mr. Frew was a Partner in Sentinel Petroleum, a privately-held operator of wells in the Western Anadarko Basin of Oklahoma.

Last month, Amplify appointed Dan Furbee as its new COO. He, too, was a partner in Sentinel Petroleum and also worked at Linn Energy and Riviera Resources.

Mr. Frew will receive a base salary of $364,000

SEC filing – Amplify Energy – new CFO

CFO of struggling food company steps down

Todd Mitchell, CFO and COO of RiceBran Technologies has resigned to pursue another opportunity. The company has appointed Bill Keneally to serve as interim CFO.

RiceBran has its head office in Tomball. It converts raw rice bran into stabilized rice bran and derivative products such as rice-based proteins.

The company has revenues of $42 million. It hasn’t made an operating profit for at least 15 years. The company has a market capitalization of $6 million as well as net debt of $6 million.

After its most recent quarterly results, the company announced it was undergoing a strategic review of all possible alternatives to generate improved returns to its shareholders.

Mr. Mitchell was appointed CFO in July 2019 and added the COO role in December 2021.

Mr. Keneally, who is based in Atlanta, is actually employed by CXO Partners, a consulting firm that specializes in placing C-suite executives on an interim basis. The agreement is on a month-to-month basis. RiceBran will pay CXO $45,000 a month.  The services covered include assisting in the preparation of SEC filings and maintaining the data room.

SEC filing – 8-K RiceBran CFO

CFO of W&T Offshore to leave

Janet Yang, CFO of W&T Offshore, has resigned, effective May 11, 2023 as she is relocating to another city for family reasons. Trey Hartman, currently Chief Accounting Officer, has been appointed interim CFO. The company will conduct a permanent search for her successor.

W&T Offshore holds working interests in 47 offshore fields in the Gulf of Mexico. It has a market capitalization of $741 million.

Ms. Yang joined the company in December 2008 as a Finance Manager. She was appointed Acting CFO in August 2018. Her position became permanent three months later.

Mr. Hartman joined the company in April 2021 and was promoted to his current role in May 2022. He has previously been the Controller at Sheridan Production and Halcon Resources (that company appointed a new CEO this week) and Assistant Controller at Petrohawk (before and after its takeover by BHP).

SEC filing – WTI CFO departure

Sysco hires new CFO from Hertz

Sysco, the food distributor, has appointed Kenny Cheung as its new CFO. He joins from Hertz in Florida, where he was the CFO. Mr Cheung replaces Aaron Alt, who resigned in December to take the same position at Cardinal Health.

Neil Russell, the interim CFO, has been appointed Senior VP and Chief Administrative Officer, a newly-created role.

Mr. Cheung was promoted to CFO of Hertz in September 2020. In the month prior, two CFOs at Hertz resigned to take CFO roles elsewhere. Hertz went into Chapter 11 in May 2020, exited in June 2021 and completed an IPO in November 2021. Mr. Cheung joined Hertz in 2018 as Senior VP of Global Financial Planning and Analysis.

Prior to that he spent over 11 years at Nielsen Holdings, including five years in China. He started his career at GE.

Mr. Cheung will receive a base salary of $765,000 and a sign-on cash bonus of $600,000. He will also receive an equity award worth almost $2.5 million.

SEC filing – Sysco Cheung CFO

Centerpoint appoints new CFO

Centerpoint Energy (market cap $18 billion) has appointed Chris Foster as its new CFO, effective May 5. He replaces Jason Wells, who was promoted to COO in January.

Mr. Foster joins from PG&E, a publicly-traded electric utility company (market cap $32 billion) that serves central and northern California, where he had been CFO since March 2021. He joined PG&E back in 2011. Mr. Wells was the CFO at PG&E before Mr. Foster.

Mr. Foster will receive a base salary of $700,000 and an equity award worth $3.9 million which will vest on his first and second anniversaries of the grant date. He will also receive relocation assistance to move to Houston.

To replace Mr. Foster, PG&E appointed Carolyn Burke as CFO. She has Houston connections, having been the CFO at Chevron Phillips Chemical Company from February 2019 to September 2022. Chevron Phillips is a jointly owned by Chevron and Phillips 66 and has its head office in The Woodlands.  She has been working as consultant to PG&E since January.

For many years, Ms. Burke worked at Dynergy and also had a spell at NRG Energy. She will have a base salary of $725,000, a signing bonus of $400,000 and $400,000 in restricted stock units.

SEC filing – Centerpoint CFO

Tellurian CFO steps down

Kian Granmayeh, CFO of Tellurian, has resigned, effective March 10, 2023. Khaled Sharafeldin, the company’s Chief Accounting Officer, will serve as interim CFO.

[Update – One hour after the Tellurian announcement, another Houston company, Carriage Services, announced that it had hired Mr. Granmayeh as its CFO].

Mr. Granmayeh has been the CFO for 3 years. He began at Tellurian as a consultant to the CFO in January 2019 and was appointed as Director of Special Projects in July 2019 and Director of Investor Relations as month later. Prior to joining Tellurian, he worked at Apache.

Mr. Granmayeh will receive severance payments of $525,000, equivalent of one year’s salary. This will be paid over 12 months. He will forfeit all outstanding equity awards and long-term cash-based awards, except for 174,942 restricted stock units issued in January 2022. At that time they were valued at $3.38 each (or $591,304). The current share price is $1.49.

No details were given on what bonus, if any, Mr. Granmayeh received this year for 2022 performance. That will be disclosed in the annual proxy, to be filed next month.

Mr. Sharafeldin has served as the Chief Accounting Officer since January 2017. Prior to that, he worked at Cheniere as its Director of Internal Audit (correction – he was VP of Internal Audit)

Mr Souki’s margin calls

Since I wrote about the non-exec drama last month, the company has disclosed that CEO, Charif Souki, has had to sell more than 15.5 million shares (60% of his holding in Tellurian) to cover a 2017 real estate loan.  This isn’t the first time Mr. Souki has had to sell shares to cover a margin call. In fact, shortly before Mr. Granmayeh’s initial appointment in 2020, he had to sell 18 million shares. Presumably, the loan is related to a ranch in Aspen that Mr. Souki owns. It covers 800 acres and 8 houses. It was originally put up for sale for $220 million in May 2020.

Currently, Tellurian is trying to build an LNG export plant in Driftwood, Louisiana. In September 2022, Shell canceled an agreement to buy 3 million metric tons a year. At the same time, Tellurian canceled a similar-sized deal with Vitol.

Gunvor Contract

That leaves just one deal with Gunvor Singapore. That original deal included clauses that Tellurian had to have issued an unconditional notice to proceed to Bechtel, the EPC contractor for the facility by December 31, 2022 and that Tellurian had to have secured the necessary financing by the same date. That date has been extended twice, in one month increments to February 28, 2023. Gunvor and Tellurian can jointly agree on a new date. If there is no agreement, either party can terminate the deal. There has been no word on the current status.

SEC filing – Tellurian CFO

CFO at Amplify Energy resigns

Luca Pacioli – the father of accounting

Jason McGlynn has resigned as CFO of Amplify Energy, effective March 17, 2023. He had been the CFO for just over two years, following the promotion of Martin Willsher from CFO to CEO. The company made no mention of its plans for a replacement.

[According to LinkedIn, Mr. McGlynn is now the CFO at Monarch Bioenergy. The company is a PE-backed joint venture between Smithfield Foods and Roeslein Alternative Energy that converts methane emissions from hog manure into natural gas].

Amplify Energy was formed in 2019 from the all-stock merger of Tulsa-based Midstates Petroleum and what was Memorial Production Partners. It has its head office in downtown Houston. Mr. McGlynn joined Midstates in 2013 as its VP of Strategic Planning, Investor Relations and Treasury.

Although the business mainly focuses on mature assets, mainly in Oklahoma and East Texas/North Louisiana, it has been in the news in the past couple of years for a pipeline it operated in offshore California that ruptured in October 2021.

The rupture occurred four miles offshore from Newport Beach and caused 588 barrels of oil to leak. A Coast Guard investigation concluded that two ships, the MSC Danit and COSCO Beijing, had sheltered in San Pedro Bay, ahead of a January 2021 storm. The winds and the waves from the storm caused the ships’ anchors to drag across the seafloor and damage the pipeline.

Last week, the companies that operated the ships, agreed to pay Amplify $96.5 million to settle all claims. During 2022, the company settled claims against it by;

  • the Federal Government ($7.1 million fine and reimbursement of $5.8 million of costs)
  • State of California ($4.9 million fine)
  • a Class action lawsuit ($50 million settlement)

In total, Amplify estimates that it has incurred total costs of $120 million to $140 million, though it has received $87 million (through September 2022) from its insurance carriers. In addition the company has also received $46 million insurance proceeds related to the approved loss of production income.

The company is now in the process of repairing the pipeline. Before it can resume operations, it has to comply with requirements of the corrective action order of The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is part of the US Department of Transportation.

SEC filing – McGlynn resignation