WPX Energy adds investor nominee to board

Reuters

Reuters reports that WPX Energy has added hedge fund shareholder Taconic Capital Advisors LP to its board. Taconic Capital is the second-largest shareholder in WPX, which has suffered from a steep slide in natural gas prices over the last eight years and has reported seven quarterly losses in a row.

WPX, spun off from pipeline operator Williams Cos Inc. in 2011, said the new board member would assist in the search for a new company head, as WPX’s CEO Ralph Hill is stepping down.

Taconic, an $8.2 billion hedge fund co-founded by former Goldman Sach executive Kenneth Brody, is the second-largest shareholder in WPX with a 6.9% stake, WPX said.

WPX holds assets in the Piceance basin of Colorado, the Bakken shale in North Dakota, and the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania. It has suffered as gas prices fell to below $2 per million British thermal units (BTUs) last year from $14 per million BTU in 2005. They have since recovered to around $4.

Natural gas made up nearly 80% of WPX's daily production in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. WPX has posted a wider-than-expected loss for the last seven quarters. Output from the company's operations in the Marcellus field is expected to be flat because of infrastructure constraints, although it is looking to ramp up liquids production in the Bakken and Niobrara shale fieldsener.

WPX also plans to form a master limited partnership with mature, natural gas properties in the Piceance basin and to take it public in the first half of 2014. The company has said that it will increase the size of its board to 12 from 11 on or before Jan. 10.

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