Oil gi­ant Cen­ovus names Key­stone cham­pion as CEO

Toronto Star - - BUSINESS - DAVID SCAN­LAN BLOOMBERG

Alex Pour­baix, a driv­ing force be­hind Tran­sCanada Corp.’s Key­stone XL pipe­line, has been named chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at Cen­ovus En­ergy Inc., tak­ing the reins as the com­pany seeks to re­build in­vestor con­fi­dence fol­low­ing its $13.3-bil­lion oil­sands buy ear­lier this year.

Pour­baix re­places Brian Fer­gu­son, who said ear­lier this year he planned to step down. Pour­baix spent 27 years at Calgary-based Tran­sCanada, most re­cently as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer. He’ll take over the new role on Nov. 6 and join the board, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment Mon­day.

The nam­ing brings a life­long pipe­lines ex­ec­u­tive to the head of one of Canada’s largest oil pro­duc­ers fol­low­ing the March ac­qui­si­tion from Cono­coPhillips. Pour­baix was key in speak­ing on be­half of Key­stone XL and win­ning Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal ap­proval. Still, his lack of pro­duc­tion ex­pe­ri­ence may give in­vestors pause. Cen­ovus has plunged 39 per cent since the start of the year.

“Some in­vestors may be sur­prised that Cen­ovus has ap­pointed a CEO with­out di­rect up­stream oil & gas (or in situ oil­sands) ex­pe­ri­ence,” Greg Pardy, an an­a­lyst at Royal Bank of Canada, wrote in a note.

Cen­ovus is in the midst of sell­ing as­sets to help pay off debt it took on to fund the Conoco deal. It is tar­get­ing $4 bil­lion to $5 bil­lion in di­vesti­tures and is still mar­ket­ing its Wey­burn op­er­a­tion in Saskatchewan.

Alex Pour­baix has been named CEO of Cen­ovus En­ergy Inc.

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