October 30, 2017 / 10:18 AM / 22 days ago

Cenovus names TransCanada veteran Pourbaix as new CEO

(Reuters) - Canadian oil producer Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.N) (CVE.TO) on Monday named Alex Pourbaix, formerly of pipeline company TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO), as its new chief executive, tapping another leader without direct technical experience even as some investors and analysts were expecting change.

Cenovus, which focuses on Canada’s high-cost oil sands, said in June it would replace Chief Executive Brian Ferguson after investors rejected his rationale for a C$17 billion ($13.3 billion) deal to buy ConocoPhillips (COP.N) assets.

Pourbaix, 52, held various positions at TransCanada, Canada’s No. 2 pipeline operator, before retiring as its chief operating officer in May.

Pourbaix, who received a law degree from the University of Alberta, would become the company’s second chief executive without a technical background when his appointment takes effect on Nov. 6. His predecessor, Ferguson, was an accountant by training.

“Investors may be surprised that Cenovus has appointed a CEO without direct upstream oil and gas (or in-situ oil sands) experience,” Royal Bank of Canada analyst Greg Pardy said in response to the naming of Pourbaix.

Cenovus shares were down as much as 1 percent at C$12.27 on Monday before trading midday at C$12.37, down 0.2 percent. Other oil companies traded in the positive.

The company’s shares plunged after the ConocoPhillips deal and hit a record low of C$9.11, losing about half their value, after Ferguson announced his departure in June.

Pourbaix said in a statement he looked forward to developing the assets bought from ConocoPhillips and reducing debt through sales, a path for the company charted by Ferguson.

National Bank of Canada analysts said in a note: “We do not believe that Alex’s arrival will have a material impact on the company’s strategy.”

Reporting by John Benny in Bangalore and Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Martina D'Couto and Steve Orlofsky

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