Oklahoma City-based SandRidge Energy fired its founder, chairman, and CEO Wednesday. The board voted to replace Tom Ward with Chief Financial Officer James Bennett.
Ward founded the company in 2006 after leaving Chesapeake Energy - another Oklahoma City energy giant he helped start.
The Oklahoman newspaper reports Ward has been under fire since late last year, when the company's third-largest shareholder cited SandRidge's "disastrous" performance and questionable transactions between SandRidge and entities owned by Ward's families.
Hedge fund TPG-Axon Capital launched a proxy fight in December, urging fellow shareholders to replace the company's board with its own slate of directors. A settlement was announced March 13 before any votes were tabulated. It added four seats to SandRidge's board for TPG-Axon representatives, who would have gotten a greater representation if Ward had not been fired by June 30.
The company's stock was already up 11 cents to 5 dollars and 8 cents a share when SandRidge made the announcement after the market closed yesterday. It jumped another 26 cents in after-hours trading.
Bloomberg reports Sandridge stock has fallen 80 percent since it began selling for $26 a share in 2007.
The company said a four-month independent review by Mayer Brown LLP of related-party transactions between SandRidge and Ward family entities found nothing that merited his termination “with cause." Because the termination was without cause, Ward will receive a $53.3 million lump sum, vesting of 6.3 million shares of previously-issued restricted stock and his base salary for the next 36 months, the company said.
Last month, Ward told Bloomberg he’d continue working at SandRidge “every day until I’m told not to.”