Crescent Point Energy Corp. has received support from the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board several days before a key vote on the company’s board of directors, with the large public pension fund backing management’s proposed slate of directors over a group put forth by an upstart dissident investor.
On Tuesday morning, CPPIB said on its website that it voted in favour of the 10 directors supported by Crescent Point management. The slate includes long-time Crescent Point chief executive Scott Saxberg. The company’s annual meeting is in Calgary on Friday morning. CPPIB did not respond to questions about its decision to back Crescent Point.
Crescent Point is facing criticism from four investors and the newly established Cation Capital Inc. Cation earlier in April declared Crescent Point to be a “broken company” and is seeking to add four new directors to the board. Cation’s move has received partial support from Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., a proxy advisory firm, which said “the dissident has made a reasonably compelling case for some change to the incumbent board.” However, Glass Lewis & Co., another proxy advisory firm, backed Crescent Point management and said Cation’s plan was “decidedly vague and bereft of any meaningful substance.”
Crescent Point stock has floundered for years, during the oil crash and thereafter. Since a high in late spring, 2014, Crescent Point stock has lost about three-quarters of its value. The shares trade around where they were 15 years ago, in the summer of 2003. Meanwhile, Crescent Point’s competitors have fared better. Crescent Point stock has climbed during the proxy fight over the past several weeks, but is still down about 15 per cent in the past year. Over the same span, the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index has ticked up about 1 per cent.
On Tuesday, Crescent Point shares closed at $11.18, down seven cents.
Issues at Crescent Point cited by Cation and others include cost challenges, debt levels and lavish pay of company executives.
Crescent Point on Tuesday said it was “pleased” that shareholders such as CPPIB were backing its proposed board of directors.
Cation Capital, meanwhile, was registered as a corporation in Alberta on March 29 this year. It is registered at the Calgary office of the law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP. Cation’s one listed director is Sandy Edmonstone, a 42-year-old investment banker.
Mr. Edmonstone and three others were nominated by Cation to the Crescent Point board. They together own about 1.5 million shares of the company, roughly 0.3 per cent. On Tuesday, Dan Gagnier, a spokesman for Cation, noted that the CPPIB owns fewer shares than Cation’s four proposed directors, holding about 1.4 million shares as of last March.
In ISS’s partial support of Cation, the proxy firm backed board nominees Herb Pinder, a 71-year-old director at ARC Resources Ltd., and Dallas Howe, the 73-year-old former chairman of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. ISS did not support Mr. Edmonstone, nor Tom Budd, another well-known Calgary investment banker.
A half-dozen other investors reached by The Globe and Mail on Tuesday all declined comment. The group included another public institutional investor, Alberta Investment Management Corporation, which said it doesn’t disclose its proxy votes ahead of meetings.
British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCIMC), another public-sector institutional investor in Crescent Point, said it plans to post its vote online ahead of the Crescent Point meeting on Friday, but had not done so as of Tuesday afternoon.
Last year, BCIMC supported only eight of 10 directors put forth by management. It withheld two votes on the issue of independent directors on the board’s nomination committee. In the four years from 2013 through 2016, BCIMC backed the board, save for withholding its vote for lawyer Gregory Turnbull each year. Mr. Turnbull stepped down from the board in 2017.