Suncor reaches deal with activist investor Elliott Investment Management
Agreement will see 3 new independent directors added to company's board
Suncor Energy Inc. says it has reached a deal with activist investor Elliott Investment Management LP that will see it undertake a strategic review of its downstream retail business with the goal of "unlocking shareholder value."
The agreement announced Monday will also see three new independent directors join the company's board.
The new board members are former BHP Billiton executive Ian Ashby, former Devon Canada president Chris Seasons and former Talisman Energy executive Jackie Sheppard.
"Suncor is committed to the ongoing renewal of its board of directors to ensure we maintain diverse and qualified directors who are charged with overseeing the company's strategy and driving shareholder value," board chair Michael Wilson said in a statement.
"In addition, the board's review of the retail business builds on our long-standing commitment to openly consider alternatives to enhance shareholder value and will help ensure the company is well positioned for even greater success and value creation in the future."
Elliott had expressed frustration in April in what it called a recent decline in performance at the energy producer.
"We appreciate the collaborative dialogue we have had with Suncor's board and fully support the appointment of three new independent directors who will bring fresh, relevant perspectives into the boardroom, as well as the Board's commitment to explore strategic options with respect to Suncor's retail business," Elliott partner John Pike and portfolio manager Mike Tomkins said in a statement.
The review of Suncor's retail business, which includes Petro-Canada and its network of gas stations, will include a range of alternatives including a potential sale of the operations.
Suncor chief executive Mark Little resigned earlier this month, one day after the company announced the death of a contractor at its Base Mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., the latest in a string of workplace deaths and safety incidents that have plagued the energy giant.
Kris Smith, executive vice-president of Suncor's Downstream division, was named interim CEO.
Two of the new directors will serve on the committee that the board has formed to conduct a global search to select the company's next CEO.