[Editor's note: This story was updated at 8:47 a.m. CDT June 11.]
Halcón Resources Inc. on June 10 appointed Richard Little as CEO, filling a vacancy created in February when the Houston-based company’s founder Floyd Wilson stepped down.
Little is a petroleum engineer with 23 years’ experience in the energy business. He was most recently CEO of Ajax Resources, a Permian Basin-focused E&P backed by New York-based private equity firm Kelso & Co. that sold to Diamondback Energy late last year for roughly $1.3 billion.
Analysts with Capital One Securities Inc. expect Little’s experience in growing a Permian company will make him a “valuable asset” to Halcón’s management team.
“We view Mr. Little’s recent success in selling a Permian-focused company that is of a similar size to [Halcón] as valuable experience to draw from as Halcón explores its own strategic alternatives, up to and including the potential for an outright sale of the company,” the Capital One analysts said in a June 11 research note.
Halcón has faced shareholder pressure, including calls for a sale of the company also made in Feburary by activist investor Fir Tree Partners. The company said June 10 it expects Little’s capital discipline, broad experience and leadership to play “a vital role in capitalizing on Halcón’s significant base in the Permian Basin.”
In a statement, Little said he will focus on growing shareholder value at Halcón by driving operational efficiencies and improving overall program economics.
“I am excited about the future of Halcón and pleased to be a part of this team,” he said.
Little’s appointment is effective June 11. James Christmas will continue to serve as non-executive chairman of Halcón’s board of directors, the company said.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Richard Little’s caliber and experience join us to lead Halcón Resources during this critical time for our company,” Christmas said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of technical, operational and leadership experience.”
Little started his career as a completions engineer with Haliburton Energy Service and prior to his tenure at Ajax held progressive roles in operations management with EP Energy and its predecessors. His experience includes reservoir, drilling, completions, production and facilities management.
Halcón was assisted with the executive search by Heidrick & Struggles, according to the company press release.
Emily Patsy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ragan Altizer, the former Ajax Resources CFO, joins Halcón while the Permian producer is undergoing a restructuring after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month.
An undisclosed buyer agreed to buy the Barnett Shale assets from Harvest Oil & Gas, a Houston-based company formerly tied to EnerVest, for $72 million.
Switchback Energy, headed by former RSP Permian CFO Scott McNeill, intends to focus its search for an acquisition target on the energy industry in North America.