Drilling RigAfter markets closed last night, the board of directors of SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE: SD) announced that its CFO and president, James Bennett, had been named CEO. Founder, former chairman, and former CEO Tom Ward was "leaving the company." The move follows a March agreement with TPG-Axon Group that gave the hedge fund four seats on SandRidge's board and an agreement to replace Ward by June 30 or add another TPG-Axon director to the board. That would have given the hedge fund effective control of the board and the company.

Ward was gone from that moment that deal was struck. According to SandRidge's announcement last night, Ward's departure was effected "without cause." An independent investigation in charges of improper related-party transactions found no reason to terminate Ward "for cause."

Ward, who was also a co-founder with Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), had been accused of sending business to outside companies in which he had a personal interest.

There is no need to weep for Ward though. He will receive a severance package that includes vesting of 6.33 million shares of restricted stock, a cash payment of $53.5 million and his current base salary for another three years. That works out to a handsome total of around $90 million.

SandRidge stock is up 1.4% this morning, at $5.15 in a 52-week range of $4.52 to $7.80.


Filed under: Energy (Business) Tagged: CHK, SD

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