Crescent Point Energy Corp. has shot back at an activist investor who launched a proxy fight at the oil producer this week, saying that voting in favour of his slate of directors would halt the company’s plans to win back the market’s trust.
Crescent Point faces an attempt by Cation Capital Inc. to put four nominees on the board. The new firm, led by former investment banker Sandy Edmonstone, has criticized Crescent Point’s board and management harshly for lucrative executive pay despite poor stock-market performance. Cation has 0.3 per cent of the stock.
Cation has not offered detailed plans for strategic changes at Crescent Point, or pushed for chief executive officer Scott Saxberg to be replaced, but has been pointed in its criticism of how the company is run. Crescent Point has said it is already well into a five-year strategy to boost production from main areas and sell non-core assets, all while avoiding new equity issues to fund acquisitions.
It contends that it has already reconstituted its board by adding seven new independent directors since 2014, and sharply reduced executive pay.
“The changes we have made need two ingredients to be reflected in our share price: time and a board of directors with the commitment and experience needed to see it through,” Crescent Point said in a letter to its shareholders. “Sandy offers neither of these. He’s asking you to throw your company into chaos and trust him and his nominees to sort it out.”
Cation has said its directors would launch a review to study how to lower costs and run the company more efficiently, assuming Mr. Edmonstone and his follow nominees are elected at the annual meeting on May. 4.
“In fact, the most recent three nominees that we have added to our board have brought expertise in capital markets, capital allocation and asset portfolio management – the exact skills Sandy says we need,” Crescent Point said.
Crescent Point’s shares have underperformed many of its peers, falling more than 35 per cent in the 12 months before Cation made its advance known on Monday. Since then, they have climbed 12 per cent to $10.27 on Friday. The proxy battle is already yielding colourful barbs.
“Whether we direct you to Crescent Point’s cratered share price, its worst-in-class valuation multiple, its excessive [general and administrative] costs and executive compensation or its rising debt and leverage (all of which are objective measurable factors that are indisputable by Crescent Point) – it is abundantly clear that Crescent Point’s boardroom houses individuals that are completely delusional about the state of what is a broken company, and who are wholly unfit to resurrect it,” Cation said in a statement on Friday.