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SandRidge CEO Tom Ward ousted, Bennett takes job

An electronic display identifies the post that trades SandRidge Energy stock on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, January 11, 2013.
An electronic display identifies the post that trades SandRidge Energy stock on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, January 11, 2013.

(Reuters) - The board of directors of SandRidge Energy Inc on Wednesday said it removed Tom Ward as chief executive, and named its president, James Bennett, to replace him, citing a need for new leadership at the U.S. oil and gas company, which has under fire from investors.

Activist investor TPG-Axon Capital has also made claims about land deals entered into by the Ward family.

The board on Wednesday said its four-month probe into allegations of improper related party transactions did not merit a "termination for cause," meaning that Ward will receive a severance package consisting of cash and stock valued at more than $90 million.

The company, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has been under fire since last year from TPG-Axon and another hedge fund for governance lapses and strategic missteps.

TPG-Axon also alleged that Ward and the company's board improperly allowed WCT Resources, an Oklahoma company run by Ward's son, Trent, to acquire the rights to drill for oil and gas near SandRidge operations.

SandRidge had said that its board found no wrongdoing in the land deals and that WCT was "an independent oil and gas company."

Shares of SandRidge rose 2.2 percent to $5.08 in after-hours trading.

(Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston and Michael Erman in New York; Editing by Gary Hill and Leslie Adler)

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