Crescent Point Energy Corp. is selling assets and says it will chop its work force by nearly a fifth as new chief executive officer Craig Bryksa seeks to restore investor confidence in the light-oil producer.
Calgary-based Crescent Point on Wednesday elevated Mr. Bryksa to the top job and said it would lay off 17 per cent of staff in a shakeup that will also see board chairman Peter Bannister step down. He is to be replaced by Robert Heinemann, who has been a director since 2014.
Crescent Point has sought to refresh its executive ranks and pledged to cut costs in a bid to win back investors frustrated by rich executive pay and a long-suffering share price.
Mr. Bryksa had served as CEO on an interim basis following the unexpected departure of Scott Saxberg last May, weeks after the company fended off an attempt by an activist fund to install its own slate of directors on the board.
Crescent Point shares pared earlier losses and were down slightly in Wednesday's session on the Toronto Stock Exchange, closing down 2.7 per cent at $7.61, and showing investors don't believe an immediate turnaround is at hand.
“We recognize that change will not happen overnight," Mr. Bryksa, formerly vice-president of engineering for Western Canada, told analysts on a conference call.
The company’s willingness to jettison assets marks a notable departure from routine acquisitions funded by big equity raises. It said Wednesday that it has identified oil and gas processing infrastructure and assets producing 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) that it could put on the block.
The company did not say what price the assets might fetch, but it is aiming for a net debt reduction of $1-billion by the end of next year under the current outlook for future oil prices.
Crescent Point, known mainly for its Bakken light-oil operations, said it would spend between $1.55-billion and $1.6-billion next year, a slight decrease from this year's budget.
Production is targeted at 176,000 to 180,000 boe/d. That's before any asset sales, and about flat from this year's expected average of 177,000 boe/d.
The company said it plans to focus spending on high-return properties in its Viewfield, Shaunavon and Flat Lake resource plays, as well as its emerging assets in Utah and in Alberta’s Duvernay shale region.
It expects the layoffs will generate about $50-million in savings and said that annual compensation for named officers will be 20 per cent lower this year compared with last as a result of recent executive departures.
Several analysts welcomed the company's narrowed focus, but said its priority on returns over production growth was overdue and will take time to pay off.
"Platitudes regarding improved capital allocation and discipline will undoubtedly resonate well, although we believe more details will be needed before the market will fully buy into the new narrative," Raymond James Ltd. analyst Chris Cox said in a note.
Earlier this year, activist investor Cation Capital Inc. said it had acquired 0.3 per cent of Crescent Point's stock at the outset of a failed campaign to stack the board with four of its hand-picked nominees.
Cation, led by former investment banker Sandy Edmonstone, reiterated criticisms this week, noting the stock has languished even though U.S. crude prices have rebounded sharply to roughly US$70 a barrel.
It had called for external candidates to fill the roles of CEO and board chairman. "This is just another plan created by the same insiders that have destroyed billions in value," Mr. Edmonstone said Wednesday in a statement.
"It lacks transparency and the necessary detail to give shareholders the confidence to get behind the company."