​Penn West proposes name change to Obsidian Energy to ‘start a new conversation’ about its strategy

Penn West CEO David French. Image: Bankers Petroleum

Penn West Petroleum has launched a proposed rebranding with the new name Obsidian Energy as the last step of its transformation to a stronger, leaner and more capable company, according to CEO David French.

The rebrand follows a study conducted earlier this year across multiple stakeholder groups that found perception of the company’s reputation to be at best neutral, and in the case of sell-side capital markets, breaching into negative.

“This study told us that the reputation of the company largely reflects the Penn West of the past including the past few years of challenges,” reads a presentation about the rebrand on the company’s website.

In addition to the price collapse, those challenges include Penn West having to restate financial reports for 2012, 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 after improper expense classifications, as well as dramatic debt reduction from nearly $3 billion in 2013 to $384 million at the end of the first quarter, when Penn West completed a series of asset sales.

“A rebrand would help the company redefine ourselves and start a new conversation about who the company is today,” Penn West says.

French, the former CEO of Bankers Petroleum who has been at the helm of Penn West since October 2016, explains the new name in a video also posted to the site.

“Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed when molten rock cools rapidly. It’s a substance of tremendous strength that has historically been used for hunting tools and today in the medical field for scalpels with edges sharper and smoother than many medical grade steels. The name honours our core purpose: developing a natural resource that is shaped for the good of mankind.”

The name change will be voted on at the company’s upcoming annual shareholder meeting at the end of June.

With files from © 2017 The Canadian Press

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