SandRidge Drops Following Plans To Replace CEO, CFO Amid Investor Pressure

Shares of SandRidge Energy (SD) fell after the company announced a management shake-up Thursday, which included the departures of its chief executive officer and chief financial officer. The shake-up comes amid pressure from investors and the receipt of an unsolicited merger proposal.

CEO, CFO Departures 

On Thursday, SandRidge announced that President and CEO James Bennett would leave the company, effective Thursday, with Bill Griffin, who currently serves as an independent director, taking on the role of interim president and CEO while the company conducts a full review of internal and external candidates. Griffin will continue to serve as a member of the board. Additionally, CFO Julian Bott will also leave the company, and Chief Accounting Officer Mike Johnson will serve as interim CFO. John Suter will continue in his role as chief operating officer and Philip Warman will remain as general counsel with an expanded role as an executive vice president. Further, Sylvia Barnes was named as an independent director.

In a statement, SandRidge's independent directors said that "in light of our new strategic direction, discussions with large shareholders and robust deliberation among the independent members of the Board, now is the right time to begin transitioning to a new leadership team."

On Wednesday, SandRidge confirmed the receipt of an unsolicited merger proposal from Midstates Petroleum Company (MPO) and said its independent directors are "engaged in an ongoing dialogue with shareholders." Directors are "developing a plan of action in line with their commitment to acting in the best interests of all shareholders," the company said, adding that they will review Midstates' proposal. Under Midstates' proposal, SandRidge shareholders would own approximately 60% of the combined company and Midstates shareholders would own 40%.

Recent Icahn Tension

In January, SandRidge Energy management met with Carl Icahn to calm rising tensions amid Icahn's demands for a board shakeup and other governance changes. Icahn said in December that he was considering a proxy contest to remove some or all of SandRidge's directors, and called on the company to replace two directors with one designated by him and the second by other large investors.

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