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Changes at SandRidge leave questions about CEO Ward's future

CEO Tom Ward's future at SandRidge Energy Inc. remains a question after the company settled a proxy fight with one of its largest shareholders Wednesday by adding four new board members.
BY JAY F. MARKS Modified: March 14, 2013 at 12:16 am •  Published: March 14, 2013

TPG-Axon could add a fifth member if Ward remains with the company past June 30. Current director Daniel W. Jordan and other unnamed directors, who already have submitted their resignations, would leave the board at that time, according to the settlement agreement.

SandRidge's new augmented board will have an outside firm review the company's dealings with entities controlled by Ward's family before deciding whether to keep him as CEO.

The board also will take a comprehensive look at SandRidge's strategy and costs. It is slashing director pay from $375,000 a year to $250,000 as a symbol of its commitment to improving efficiency.

“Going forward, the company will focus on maximizing the potential of its existing assets, particularly its valuable position in the Mississippian formation,” said Jeffrey Serota, the board's lead independent director. “In addition, we remain committed to creating long-term value for all stakeholders including our shareholders and employees and the communities in which we operate.”

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber has kept a careful eye on the struggle for control of SandRidge, President Roy Williams said, while remaining wary of TPG-Axon.

“I don't really know what this company 's (TPG-Axon's) objective is,” Williams said. “They want to increase shareholder value. There are a lot of ways to do that.

“Hopefully they see the value of what the company is doing here and their employees. Hopefully the company comes out of this OK.”

Williams said shake-ups like the one at SandRidge are part of the city becoming a major player in the energy industry.

“They're indicative of what's going on in this marketplace,” Williams said. “We're becoming an epicenter, companies are growing, and that's SandRidge's story, as well. They're not just a big employer, they're a big contributor to our community as well.

“We hope they will continue in that manner, be a corporate citizen and continue to grow.”

Contributing: Paul Monies and Steve Lackmeyer,

Business writers