The board of directors of SandRidge Energy, the Oklahoma City company that led the opening of Kansas’ Mississippian Limestone play, named James Bennett CEO and president, and board member Jeffrey Serota as interim non-executive chairman, effective Wednesday.
Company founder Tom Ward, former chairman and CEO, is leaving the company.
The transition is the result of a revolt by several large investors in the company unhappy with Ward’s management, particularly the amount of debt he took on for an aggressive land acquisition and drilling program.
The company has already said it will cut back its capital spending to improve efficiency. In Kansas, the company said that in 2013 it will focus drilling on its leases in Comanche, Barber and Harper counties, although it leases acreage in more than 25 Kansas counties.
Bennett has been chief financial officer of SandRidge since January 2011 and was promoted to president in March 2013. Before that, he was managing director for White Deer Energy, a private equity fund focused on the oil and gas industry, GSO Capital Partners, Aquilex Services Corp., Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, and NationsBank.
“After evaluating James’ performance as president and his two and a half years as our CFO, we believe that with his extensive industry and financial expertise, as well as his leadership qualities, he is the ideal choice to lead SandRidge,” Serota said in a statement. “The Board unanimously concluded that an external search was unnecessary and not in the best interests of the company as the board has full confidence that James will provide excellent leadership to a talented management team and workforce, focus the company on transparency, meeting or exceeding expected results, capital discipline and creating sustainable returns.”