Shell Midstream CFO Susan Ward leaves post

  • Strong signs for push-out forces
  • After almost three years on the job
  • Laud and thanks for Ward
  • Shawn Carsten to take over
  • Ward will remain as Head of M&A and Commercial Finance at Shell

(management-change.com) — Houston, Texas, November 03, 2016 — Susan Ward, finance chief of Shell Midstream, leaves the position. As announced by Shell Midstream Partners, L.P. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Thursday, November 03, 2016, Susan M. Ward leaves the post as Chief Financial Officer at the pipeline operator in a surprising move after almost three years on the job, effective February 28, 2017.

No company wants a CFO to flame out in the first years.

Ward’s duties are taken over by Shawn J. Carsten, currently Downstream Controller in the Americas at Shell.

Shell Midstream Partners, L.P. is a growth-oriented mainstream midstream master limited partnership formed by Royal Dutch Shell plc.

No reason given

In the announcement, Shell Midstream did not explicitly explain the reason for Ward’s move, leaving room for speculation.

“To spend most of her time in her role as Head, M&A and Commercial Finance for Shell’s businesses in the Americas”

Shell Midstream said: “On November 1, 2016, Susan M. Ward announced her resignation as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Shell Midstream Partners GP LLC, the general partner of the Partnership …, effective February 28, 2017 to spend most of her time in her role as Head, M&A and Commercial Finance for Shell’s businesses in the Americas.”

After March 1, 2017, Ward will continue in her role as Head of M&A and Commercial Finance for Shell’s businesses in the Americas.  In that role, Ward will continue in an M&A advisory capacity to Shell Midstream Partners. Shell is a mainstream midstream master limited partnership formed by Royal Dutch Shell plc.

“No disagreements”

“There were no disagreements between Ms. Ward and the General Partner, the Partnership or any officer or director of the General Partner which led to Ms. Ward’s decision,” Shell Midstream said.

It is a phrase that may be intended to prevent false rumors. It may also fuel further speculation and raise more questions than it answers.

Such a phrase should be read very carefully. The exact wording may be insightful.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Shell Midstream Partners, L.P. since December 2015.

Tortoise Capital Advisors holds 9.11 percent stake

Tortoise Capital Advisors, LLC reported a 9.11 percent stake in Shell Midstream Partners, L.P. as of June 30, 2016. Tortoise Capital Advisors is a privately owned investment manager. The firm primarily provides its services to high net worth individuals.

Chaired by Curtis Frasier

Shell Midstream Partners, L.P. is chaired by Curtis R. Frasier.

Curtis Frasier became a member of the board of directors of the general partner and is the Chairman of the board of directors in connection with the IPO.

John Hollowell serves as CEO of Shell Midstream Partners, L.P. John Hollowell was appointed Chief Executive Officer, President and member of the board of directors of the general partner in July 2015, and is also Executive Vice President of US Pipelines.

On the job as CFO since 2014

Susan Ward was appointed Vice President, Chief Financial Officer in May 2014, and became a member of the board of directors of the general partner in connection with the IPO.

Ward has served as Head, M&A and Commercial Finance – Americas for Shell Oil Company since January 2010.

Ward devotes the majority of her time to her role as Head, M&A and Commercial Finance and also spends time, as needed, devoted to Shell Midstream’s business and affairs.

Since 2010, Ward has also served as Trustee and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Shell Pension Trust and Chairman of its Investment Committee.

Prior to her current role, Ward served as Vice President, Upstream Commercial Finance for Shell International Exploration & Production B.V. based in The Hague from 2007 to 2009.

Since joining Shell in 1998, Ward has worked primarily in M&A and Commercial Finance roles across Shell’s global businesses.

Since 2007, she has also served on the board of directors of Shell’s Bully deepwater drillship joint venture.

Prior to joining Shell, Ward worked as an investment banker in the energy sector for 11 years at Kidder, Peabody, PaineWebber and UBS in New York and Houston, including as a Managing Director in the Natural Resources and Energy investment banking group of UBS Securities.

Ward began her career working for Exxon Company USA as a refining engineer and also worked for Mobil Corporation in its Finance organization.

Ward earned a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from Villanova University and an MBA in Finance with distinction from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Strong signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Susan M. Ward’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by management-change.com suggests strong signs for push-out forces that may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the management-change.com report 41.2016 ($).