Laredo Petroleum Inc. on May 18 appointed William (Bill) Albrecht as independent chairman of the board, succeeding Laredo’s founder, Randy Foutch.

Foutch had announced his intention in April 2019 to retire as part of a comprehensive succession plan of the Permian Basin shale producer’s leadership team.

In a statement on May 18 commenting on Foutch’s departure, Jason Pigott, Laredo’s president and CEO, said: “Speaking on behalf of the entire board, I would like to thank Randy for his tireless commitment to building Laredo Petroleum. Through his spirit and dedication, Randy created a strong foundation for our future growth. The board and I wish him well in his future pursuits and are confident he will continue to be a positive presence in the energy industry.”

Pigott, who joined Laredo from Chesapeake Energy Corp., succeeded Foutch as CEO in October 2019.

As part of the succession process, the Laredo board decided to separate the roles of chairman and CEO, titles that Foutch both held since founding the company in 2006. Additionally, plans included that the future chairman would be independent, which is fulfilled by Albrecht’s appointment, noted Dr. Bill Scoggins, chair of the nominating and corporate governance committee.

“Bill’s appointment as chairman fulfills Laredo's prior commitment to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive officer and name an independent chairman,” Scoggins said in a statement. “His extensive energy industry background and leadership experience will be instrumental in providing guidance to Laredo’s leadership team in these unprecedented times.”

Laredo shareholders recently voted in favor of a 1-for-20 reverse stock split, a move expected to boost its share price and avoid delisting from the New York Stock Exchange. The reverse stock split, a financial measure taken this year by other U.S. shale producers wounded by a collapse in the oil market, is expected to become effective June 1. 

Albrecht joined Laredo’s board in February with more than 40 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. 

Prior experience includes multiple positions at Occidental Petroleum Corp., including roles with broad supervision of the exploration and production business. Earlier in his career, he was an executive at EOG Resources Inc. and an engineer for Tenneco Oil Co.

He currently also serves as chairman of the board of California Resources Corp. and as a member of the boards of oilfield service firms Halliburton Co. and Valaris Plc.