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Crescent Point Slashing Workforce, Focusing on Canada Bakken to Improve Balance Sheet

Crescent Point Energy Corp. is reducing its workforce by 17%, or by more than 200 employees, potentially to save the Calgary-based company more than C$50 million annually as it works to “become a more focused and efficient company with a stronger balance sheet,” management said.

The announcement was one of several Crescent Point made Wednesday, including a transition plan that focuses the asset base by pursuing “significant” upstream divestitures, reduces its net debt, identifies certain midstream assets for potential monetization and increases free cash flow generation.

In addition to the workforce reduction, Crescent Point also named interim CEO Craig Bryksa as the new president and CEO. Bryksa had been running the company since late May, a month after Scott Saxberg stepped down in the wake of shareholder votes rejecting both a dissident slate of directors and a motion to approve the company's approach to executive compensation. In 2017, the compensation plan received 86% of shareholder votes; this year, support for the plan fell to just 39%. Saxberg had served as CEO since helping found Crescent Point 15 years ago.

Robert Heinemann, who has served on the board since 2014, was also named chairman following current President Peter Bannister’s retirement. The restructuring of Crescent Point’s executive team is expected to result in nearly 20% lower annual compensation for current named executive officers in 2018 compared with 2017.

“This restructuring is difficult, however we needed to adjust the organization to match our current business needs,” Bryksa said.

Crescent Point’s transition plan also includes an ongoing review of its operating and capital costs, including the implementation of field automation to further increase efficiencies.

As it seeks to focus its asset base, Crescent Point said the Viewfield, Shaunavon and Flat Lake resource plays in the Bakken Shale of Canada will be key areas, and the company also plans to continue advancing its emerging and earlier stage resource plays in the Uinta Basin of Canada and in the East Shale Duvernay “in a paced and disciplined manner, which could provide significant opportunity over the long term and garner increased capital over time.”

These areas, including its emerging and earlier stage resource plays, accounted for about 70% of second quarter 2018 production. The company’s remaining assets account for close to 50,000 boe/d of its current production.

Crescent Point is also reviewing the sale of infrastructure assets as such a transaction “could unlock value, provide a near-term source of proceeds for net debt reduction and create a strategic partnership,” management said. Such a buyer could also potentially fund key future infrastructure projects, further increasing Crescent Point’s financial flexibility, market access and overall returns, it said.

With asset sales being partially dependent on prevailing market conditions, the company said it plans to be flexible with its divestitures. Earlier this year, Crescent Point completed the sale of some noncore Williston Basin assets for about C$280 million. Operated and nonoperated production from the assets was estimated to be about 4,800 boe/d.

Crescent Point also is targeting a net debt reduction of more than C$1 billion by year-end 2019 at current strip commodity prices. The debt reduction strategies include maximizing free cash flow through an efficient capital allocation process, cost reductions and disciplined asset sales.

“After taking a refreshed approach in reviewing our business, we will look to refocus our asset base into fewer operating areas, follow a more disciplined capital allocation process and reduce our costs. We believe this new approach will enhance our company’s sustainability and returns for shareholders,” Bryksa said.

Crescent Point expects to internally fund its development programs and plans to increase free cash flow generation through a combination of initiatives, including an improved cost structure, a more disciplined capital allocation process and advancing decline rate mitigation techniques, such as waterflood recovery, the company said.

Once the company achieves its target debt levels, “it will be in a better position to allocate free cash flow to other opportunities that drive value, such as additional debt-adjusted return-based growth, a return of capital to shareholders via options such as dividends and potential share repurchases or a combination thereof,” management said.

Crescent Point’s 2018 guidance remains unchanged, with an annual average production of 177,000 boe/d and C$1.775 billion of capital expenditures. This guidance implies second half 2018 capital spending of around C$750 million and production averaging 174,000 boe/d, reflecting previously announced dispositions that closed toward the end of 2Q2018.

The company expects its 2019 capital expenditures to be around C$1.55-1.60 billion, at current strip commodity prices, with annual average production of about 176,000-180,000 boe/d. The initial production range reflects various capital allocation scenarios and does not account for potential dispositions during the last six months of 2018.

“Although this transition will take time, we expect to deliver ongoing improvement to the company’s financial position, profitability and sustainability,” Bryksa said.

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