This story has been updated.
SandRidge Energy Inc.'s (NYSE:SD) board removed founder and CEO Tom Ward after activist investors accused him of placing his interests ahead of the company's, Reuters reports.
Ward, who was dismissed Wednesday, will be succeeded by former chief financial officer and current SandRidge President James Bennett.
The Oklahoma City, Okla., company also announced that an independent investigation into improper oil and gas transactions in Mississippi concluded that Ward’s behavior there didn’t warrant punishment.
Ward will receive severance pay of more than $90 million in cash and stock. He earned more than $116 million from 2007-2012, making him one of the highest-compensated executives in the oil business for that period.
Hedge fund TPG-Axon Capital Management LP had accused SandRidge last year of bad corporate governance and strategy, striking a deal with the board on how to proceed if Ward remained in control by June 2013, Bloomberg reports.
Executive search consultant Jay Millen, from DHR International, told IBTimes that Ward’s severance package was admittedly generous, but said Ward created substantial value at the company during his tenure.
Millen expects that the major investors in SandRidge, including TPG-Axon, will have a heavy hand in choosing a reformed board of directors, in a governance decision to be settled in coming weeks.
SandRidge’s shares have fallen 90 percent over the past five years and traded midday at $4.97, down 2.2 percent, or 11 cents.
Millen said Bennett’s challenge will be devoting sufficient time to SandRidge’s operations, rather than focusing on restructuring its debt, as commodity prices fluctuate.