UPDATE 1-Penn West shares fall as senior managers fired

Tue Nov 6, 2012 3:18pm EST
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* COO, three other VPs asked to leave company

* CEO says company needs to show it can meet targets

* Shares drop as much as 4.7 pct (Adds that executives were asked to leave; updates shares)

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Penn West Petroleum Ltd shares were down as much as 4.7 percent on Tuesday after the company fired four senior executives, including its chief operating officer.

Penn West, one of Western Canada's largest conventional oil producers, said Chief Operating Officer Hilary Foulkes had left the company "effective immediately". Thane Jensen, Penn West senior vice-president operations and engineering; James Burns, vice-president, corporate planning; and Wendy Henkelman, vice-president, treasury, were also let go.

"We released these people," Murray Nunns, the company's chief executive, told Reuters.

Nunns said Penn West had been considering the move for what he called "an extended period" as the company's shares badly lagged those of its peers. While the company has stakes in some of Alberta's biggest conventional oil deposits and had taken steps to lower debt, Nunns said Penn West still has to persuade investors it can meet production and financial targets.

"Frankly we were seeing drift in that direction and it was time to change that as an organization, plain and simple," he said. "I could candy coat it a couple of ways but that is what the Street needs to see from us."

Foulkes had been in charge of Penn West's asset sale program, including the C$1.3 billion ($1.31 billion) sale of noncore properties to undisclosed buyers announced last month.   Continued...