April 5, 2018 / 10:52 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 3-Cenovus ropes in oil industry veteran from Husky Energy as CFO

(Updates share move, adds analyst comments)

By Ahmed Farhatha

April 5 (Reuters) - Canadian oil and gas producer Cenovus Energy Inc said on Thursday it named Jon McKenzie chief financial officer, bringing in an industry veteran who most recently helped rival Husky Energy Inc rein in costs and strengthen its finances.

Cenovus shares rose as much as 7 percent to hit a two-month high of C$12.45 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

McKenzie joined Husky as CFO in 2015 and was tasked with bringing down costs as oil prices hit record lows. The company restored its cash dividend as cost-cutting measures started to pay off amid a recovery in crude prices.

Cenovus, which is in the middle of its own cost-cutting drive, will benefit from McKenzie’s expertise, analysts said.

“For Cenovus, (hiring McKenzie) removes uncertainty and probably fills the role with somebody who investors are familiar with,” analyst Michael Dunn at GMP Securities said.

Chief Executive Officer Alex Pourbaix, who took charge in October last year, has been cutting jobs and lowering operating expenses, following a purchase last year of ConocoPhillips’ Canadian assets that was criticized by shareholders.

McKenzie will replace Ivor Ruste, who will retire later this month.

Before Husky, McKenzie worked at Irving Oil Ltd and Suncor Energy Inc.

“His broad experience in the energy industry will be an asset to the company as we continue to focus on strengthening our balance sheet and lowering our cost structure,” Cenovus Chief Executive Officer Alex Pourbaix said in a statement.

Husky Energy named Controller Jeff Hart as interim CFO and said it would update on its five-year plan and 2022 targets at its 2018 Investor Day to be held next month.

The company is facing provincial and federal charges related to a July 2016 pipeline leak that spilled oil into a river in Western Canada. (Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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