SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE: SD) and its chief executive, Tom Ward, have been getting crosswise with investors since at least last November. Ward has been a particular target of two SandRidge investors who have criticized the company for allowing the CEO to participate in land acquisitions and sales through companies he either controls or has an interest in.
Today in an exclusive report, Reuters suggests that the company’s board is giving Ward “wide latitude to profit from personal oil-and-gas deals in ways that pose potential conflicts of interest with the company.” Ward is a co-founder of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), the CEO of which has recently announced his resignation following a Reuters report last year of similar potential conflicts of interest.
SandRidge’s board last week replied to allegations from investors TPG-Axon Capital and Mount Kellett Capital Management regarding Ward’s potential conflicts of interest by saying that it had “reviewed issues related to these allegations several times over the Company’s history and has found no wrongdoing to have taken place.”
Whether Ward or SandRidge did anything wrong is no longer the central issue. The charge is that the potential for conflicts do exist and that potential should be eliminated.
SandRidge’s shares are off about 1.1% this morning, at $6.18 in a 52-week range of $4.81 to $8.98. The company went public in 2008 at around $32 a share, and the stock peaked at around $65 a share in June of that year. With a drop of around 90% from that peak, it is no surprise that investors are restless.