Less than a week after showing founder Tom Ward the door and replacing him with then CFO James Bennett, SandRidge Energy (UNKNOWN:SD.DL) has filled Bennett's vacant office. The company has appointed industry veteran Eddie LaBlanc as its CFO, a position he'll begin on July 8. Because the CFO is such a critical position at the company, it's important for investors to know a little more about the man taking on that role.
LeBlanc brings broad-based financial experience to SandRidge including stints as the CFO at several public and private companies, including Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) subsidiary East Resources, PostRock Energy, and Range Resources (NYSE:RRC). He has also served as an auditor at Ernst & Ernst as well as being a CPA and a CFA. Overall, LeBlanc brings more than 20 years of finance and accounting experience to SandRidge.
The company has said that it expects him to "focus on capital discipline, optimizing SandRidge's spending levels, and executing on our previously announced financial strategy designed to delivers returns to our shareholders." In order for investors to know if he's up to the task, we need to see what we can gleam from his past. That should help us better understand what SandRidge's future might look like.
Most recently, LeBlanc was the CFO of East Resources, a position he's held since 2010, which is the same year that Shell purchased the company. East is an Appalachian Basin operator with more than 900,000 acres that are focused on the Marcellus. Since acquiring East, Shell has been very active in the region, for in addition to drilling, the company recently signed a midstream joint venture to ensure the flow of its production. It also is considering building a major petrochemical complex to take advantage of the gas produced from the Marcellus. While Shell spends tens of billions of dollars each year in capex, the company is very disciplined and it would have been LeBlanc's job to manage East's capex to meet Shell's ambitious targets.
Where LeBlanc's background really gets interesting is in his stint at PostRock Energy from 2009 to 2010. The company was enduring a real rough patch which included two former executives landing themselves in federal prison. What's interesting is that the man leading the company through the transition from that checkered past was none other than current SandRidge COO David Lawler who left PostRock in 2011 for a position at SandRidge. Another interesting note about PostRock is that the company had secured the funds that saw it through its transition from West Deer Energy, which is a private equity fund that is a former employer of SandRidge's new CEO James Bennett. What this tells investors is that there is some familiarity here with LeBlanc as he helped navigate PostRock through a very tough situation.
A final item worth noting is that LeBlanc has also served as the CFO for Range Resources from 2000 until 2003. During that time Range is noted to have shifted its strategy from "acquire-and-exploit" to one that was more technically focused, which is a lot like what SandRidge is doing now. The company's strategy became one that focused on low-cost, consistent growth in both production and reserves, which turned out to be a winning formula for the company.
Overall, the hiring of Eddie LeBlanc as CFO looks to be a good one for SandRidge. He has decades of industry experience as a CFO with a track record of financial discipline and success. While only time will tell if SandRidge's new leadership can turn the company around, the past successes of these men do bode well for its future.
Fool contributor Matt DiLallo owns shares of SandRidge Energy. Matt DiLallo has the following options: Short Sep 2013 $5 Puts on SandRidge Energy. The Motley Fool recommends Range Resources. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.