US shale producer Pioneer's founder and CEO Sheffield to retire
By Liz Hampton
April 26 (Reuters) - Scott Sheffield, who built U.S. oil producer Pioneer Natural Resources into the largest producer in Texas, will retire at the end of the year, the company said on Wednesday.
The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) NGC’s HSSE strategy is reflective and supportive of the organisational vision to become a leader in the global energy business.
His departure likely will reignite perennial Wall Street talk that the Dallas-based company could become a takeover target. With its $52 billion market value, Pioneer has repeatedly been discussed as a potential candidate for U.S. oil majors.
Pioneer shares fell 2.6% in after-hours trading to $216.65.
Sheffield, 70, was Pioneer’s founding CEO from 1997 to 2016 and its chairman since 1999. He stepped down from the CEO role in 2016 and returned as chief executive three years later. He will remain a director after he leaves as CEO on Dec. 31, the company said.
He guided Pioneer through multibillion-dollar acquisitions of U.S. shale rivals DoublePoint Energy in 2021 and Parsley Energy in 2020, making it a top producer in Texas.
In an interview, Sheffield declined to comment on merger rumors, noting Pioneer "will always do the right thing for shareholders." He credited the firm with shifting its focus from high production growth to shareholder returns and praised the industry's rapid gains in the Permian basin.
"I never would have thought that," he said.
Richard Dealy, Pioneer's chief operating officer and former finance chief, was named CEO, effective upon Sheffield's retirement. The company has a "high bar" for considering new deals," Dealy said.
Dealy "has been with me for over 30 years and he has participated with me in every decision the company has made," Sheffield said. Pioneer has been working on a succession plan since he returned to the helm four years ago.
Pioneer this year increased its base dividend by 14% and refreshed its share repurchase program with a $4 billion authorization.
On Wednesday, it posted a better-than-expected profit for the first quarter, as oil and gas production came in near the top end of its guidance.
Global crude prices averaged $81.24 a barrel in the January-March quarter, down nearly 20% from a year earlier but still well above a level where oil and gas producers can drill profitably.
Pioneer reported it sold its oil for an average $75.15 per barrel in the quarter, down more than 20% from a year earlier. Net income fell 39% to $1.2 billion from $2 billion last year as oil prices cooled.
Excluding items, Pioneer earned $5.21 per share, beating analysts' estimates of $4.91, according to Refinitiv data. (Reporting by Arshreet Singh; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Maju Samuel, David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)