On 7-Dec-11, Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (NYSE: HP), an oil and gas well contract driller, filed an 8-K reporting that W. H. Helmerich, III (Chairman since 1987) notified the board of his intent to serve out the remainder of his current term and retire at the 2012 annual meeting scheduled to be held on 7-Mar-12. His son and current CEO, Hans Helmerich, will become Chairman at that time.
While this change will recombine the chairman and CEO positions in one person (a leadership structure that we view less favorably than having the two positions separated), it appears that there will be little change in the balance of power between management and shareholders. The Helmerich family has held the chairman and CEO positions for decades.
Helmerich, III is now approaching 90 years old, an age well beyond that of most board members’ retirement. Perhaps the greatest loss HP faces is his decades of experience. As the founder’s son, W.H. Helmerich, III has been a director since 1949 and assumed the Chairman & CEO positions in 1987. His tenure as CEO was short lived as his son Hans assumed the position two years later.
Here is HP’s 8-K reporting the change in chairman. There was no press release.