UPDATE 1-Penn West names new CEO, sets dividend cut and layoffs

Wed Jun 5, 2013 2:44pm EDT
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* Penn West nearly halves its dividend payout

* Company to also layoff 10 percent of staff

* Mulls joint ventures, and other options

* Shares down 2.8 percent in afternoon trading

By Euan Rocha and Scott Haggett

TORONTO/CALGARY, June 5 (Reuters) - Canada's Penn West Petroleum Ltd named a former Marathon Oil Corp executive as CEO and said it would slash its dividend, cut 10 percent of its staff and review strategic options such as asset sales and joint ventures.

The Calgary-based oil and gas producer said late on Tuesday that it had appointed former Marathon Chief Operating Officer David Roberts as president and chief executive officer, effective June 19. He replaces Murray Nunns, who will retire from the company on July 1.

Penn West is one of Canada's largest conventional oil producers with nearly 6 million acres (2.5 million hectares) of exploration lands in Western Canada and 676 million barrels of reserves. However, its shares have dropped by more than half over the past two years as production declined while its rich dividend drained the cash needed to boost output.

"The company has been struggling and it needed to take decisive action," said Jim Hall, chief investment officer at Mawer Investment Management Ltd, which owns some 1.32 million Penn West shares, according to the latest Thomson Reuters data.   Continued...