Private investor Kimmeridge Energy Management Co., which owns a 2.5% stake in Ovintiv Inc., has nominated three people to stand for board election as Kimmeridge looks to upend oversight of the Denver-based independent.
Earlier this month Kimmeridge warned Ovintiv that the exploration and production (E&P) company needed to improve performance or face a reckoning.
“Given the track record of value destruction at Ovintiv, the company requires the stewardship of a strong board…that can restore confidence in the shareholder base and hold management accountable,” said Kimmeridge managing partner Mark Viviano, head of Public Equities.
“Despite our best efforts to engage constructively with the company, the board was dismissive of our recommendations to help position Ovintiv as a leading E&P. Therefore, we are exercising our shareholder rights to provide the owners of the company a voice on who should represent them in the boardroom.”
Kimmeridge founder Ben Dell is one of the three nominees. Also nominated is Erin Blanton, senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Cambiar Investors’ Katherine L. Minyard, investment principal, rounds out the trio of nominees.
Kimmeridge said the nominees would help “drive alignment with shareholders, while providing independent and qualified perspectives” to address “deficiencies” on the current board. Among other things, the investor said the board is “inexperienced” in unconventional resource evaluation and development, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
Kimmeridge also blasted Ovintiv’s “environmental stewardship” and said it has “become an environmental laggard, trailing peers on key environmental metrics and receiving deteriorating environmental ratings from credible independent evaluators.”
In response, Ovintiv management said it welcomed discussions with its shareholders and an open dialogue. The board’s Corporate Responsibility and Governance Committee plans to review the nominations.
“We are, as always, open minded to any and all ideas that advance our objective of creating value and remain committed to acting in the best interest of all shareholders,” management said.
Also facing a board upheaval is ExxonMobil. San Francisco-based Engine No. 1 LLC last month said it wanted to squeeze more value from ExxonMobil through “active ownership” that included nominating independent board candidates.
On Wednesday Engine No. 1 formally nominated four people, Gregory J. Goff, former CEO of refiner Andeavor until 2018; Kaisa Hietala, who until 2010 was executive vice president of Renewable Products at refiner Neste; Alexander Karsner, senior strategist at X, formerly Google X, the innovation lab of Alphabet Inc.; and Anders Runevad, who until 2019 was CEO of Vesta Wind Systems.
“Investors increasingly want to see companies focused on the long-term, and ExxonMobil is no exception,” Engine No. 1’s management team stated. “We believe that ExxonMobil’s board needs new members who have proven success positioning energy companies for today as well as tomorrow, and who are sufficiently independent from the current board to ensure a clean break from a strategy and mindset that have led to years of value destruction and poorly positioned the company for the future.”
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