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Weatherford Ousts Legal, Compliance Chief After Bankruptcy Exit

June 9, 2020, 1:24 PM

Weatherford International plc has ended the five-year tenure of general counsel and chief compliance officer Christina Ibrahim as part of a broader leadership organization.

Ibrahim’s departure, which was confirmed June 7 and was in tandem with the exit of CEO Mark McCollum, came five days before an annual stockholder meeting by the Switzerland-based oil and gas giant, whose U.S. offices are in Houston. The leadership changes come six months after Weatherford emerged from a half-year of bankruptcy proceedings.

Weatherford said senior in-house lawyer Christine Morrison has replaced Ibrahim as interim general counsel and corporate secretary. Ibrahim didn’t respond to a request for comment about her departure, which Weatherford said wasn’t the result of a disagreement with the company.

Ibrahim is entitled to termination without cause benefits and compensation, Weatherford’s securities filings show. She received nearly $2.62 million in total compensation—including $2.44 million in cash—last year from Weatherford, according to a 2019 proxy statement filed by the company.

Ibrahim joined Weatherford in 2015 from Houston-based Halliburton Co., where she spent seven years in-house at the oilfield services giant and served as its global chief commercial counsel and corporate secretary. She previously was general counsel at WellDynamics Inc., which Halliburton acquired in 2008.

Weatherford filed for bankruptcy in July 2019, citing a liquidity shortfall caused by challenging economic conditions in the global energy industry. The company’s Chapter 11 case concluded in December, although it soon found itself coping with the financial fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

In April, Weatherford announced plans to cut in half its capital expenditures and delist from the New York Stock Exchange as oil prices crumbled amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Southwestern GC Switch

Southwestern Energy Co. announced June 4 that general counsel and corporate secretary John Ale will retire June 30 and be replaced by associate general counsel and assistant corporate secretary Christopher Lacy, who initially joined the company as a chief litigation counsel in 2014.

“John is a pragmatic legal adviser, a deeply respected colleague across Southwestern, and a true friend,” company president and CEO Bill Way said in a statement. “We thank John for his steady and focused leadership and wish him and his family the very best.”

Ale received nearly $3.04 million in total compensation—including $886,100 in cash—from Southwestern last year, according to a proxy statement filed by the suburban Houston-based natural gas exploration and production company. Securities filings show that Ale will remain with Southwestern through Dec. 31 in a consulting role that will pay him $25,000 per month.

Southwestern hired Ale in November 2013 from Occidental Petroleum Corp., where he was general counsel. Prior to that he served as a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Vinson & Elkins. Ale started his legal career as a clerk to former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger and former U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Edward Tamm.

Bloomberg data shows that Ale currently owns roughly $669,000 in Southwestern stock.

New Era at Murphy Oil

After 32 years in-house at Murphy Oil Corp., longtime legal chief Walter Compton is moving on.

Compton retired June 1 from Murphy Oil and was succeeded by vice president of law and corporate secretary E. Tod Botner, who has worked at the oil exploration and production company since 2001.

Murphy Oil paid more than $5.23 million in total compensation—including nearly $1.28 million in cash—to Compton last year, according to a proxy statement filed by the company, which relocated to Houston in May after closing its former corporate headquarters in El Dorado, Ark. Securities filings show Compton received an additional three years of age and service time tacked onto his exit package because of an enhanced retirement program offered to employees affected by the closure of that office.

In a statement, Murphy Oil president and CEO Roger Jenkins wished Compton well in retirement and praised him for leading “numerous strategic transactions on behalf of the company, including the spin-off of Murphy USA, as well as many complex upstream and downstream acquisitions and divestitures.”

Botner, Murphy Oil’s new legal chief, will report to Jenkins. Botner previously held a variety of top in-house legal roles at Murphy Oil in the U.S. and Malaysia. Bloomberg News reported last year on Murphy Oil’s exit from Malaysia following the $2.13 billion sale of its holdings in the country. The company used the proceeds from that deal to fund its purchase of assets in the Gulf of Mexico.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com