Bonterra Energy CEO says end of takeover battle with Obsidian comes as a relief

The Bonterra Energy Corp. logo is shown in this undated handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)

The chairman and CEO of Bonterra Energy Corp. says he's relieved that rival Obsidian Energy Ltd. ended its hostile takeover campaign this week after seven months of trying to persuade investors to accept a share-swap deal.

George Fink says that despite feeling "animosity" from some of the criticisms sent his way during the lengthy campaign, he is still willing to work collaboratively with Obsidian and, in fact, the companies share ownership of some oil and gas properties.

The latest extension of Obsidian's offer to swap two of its shares for each Bonterra share closed on Monday with interim CEO Stephen Loukas explaining it would not renew its bid because the economic environment had changed.

In an interview on Wednesday, Fink said his company is returning to its traditional role as a producer of just over 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day that spends to maintain production and pay down debt while providing a steady flow of dividends to shareholders.

The 81-year-old, who with his wife holds about 15 per cent of the shares of the company he founded in 1998, says he's optimistic given recent oil price strengthening and a drilling program that has allowed Bonterra to increase output to about 13,000 boe/d from 10,500 boe/d at year-end.

He says Bonterra's short-term goal is to pay down debt and then reinstate the dividend it suspended last year as oil prices plummeted amid a demand drop blamed on the affects of pandemic lockdowns.

"It's really a relief to be rid of that (takeover offer)," Fink said, adding he thought Obsidian's debt and well abandonment liabilities were too large to make it a good match with Bonterra.

"We don't feel like we need to grow. Our shareholders just want to go back to getting a cheque every month, or at least every quarter."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2021.