Cenovus Energy CEO ‘Not Worried’ About Husky Deal Approval as Results Disappoint

Cenovus Energy CEO ‘Not Worried’ About Husky Deal Approval as Results Disappoint
Rows of steam generators line a road at the Cenovus Energy Christina Lake Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) project 120 km south of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, in a file photo. (Reuters/Todd Korol/File Photo)

The chief executive of Cenovus Energy said he is confident shareholders will approve its acquisition of rival Husky Energy, despite big quarterly losses and a stock sell-off.

Cenovus and Husky lost more money than analysts expected and took impairment hits in the third quarter, the companies said on Thursday, adding concerns to a $3.6 billion merger announced days earlier.

Cenovus stock fell 6.5 percent while Husky’s fell 7 percent, both among the top percentage decliners on the S&P/TSX Composite Index. Cenovus is down 12 percent since announcing the deal Sunday, including an 8 percent selloff on Monday.

The deal requires approval by shareholders of both companies.

“I’m not very worried,” Cenovus chief executive Alex Pourbaix told Reuters. “What you saw on Monday was a lot of people with very short-term bias get out of the stock. I’m quite happy to replace those investors with investors with a longer-term view.”

COVID-19-related lockdowns have floored fuel demand and added to the woes of Canada’s energy sector, pushing companies to look at consolidation and layoffs.

Len Racioppo, managing director of Cenovus shareholder Coerente Capital Management, said acquiring Husky and its refineries “watered down” the bet he made on oil prices rising through owning Cenovus, which mainly has production assets.

Husky reported a $7.08 billion net loss compared with a year-ago profit of $273 million, hurt by a $6.7 billion impairment related to lower long-term price assumptions and reduced capital spending.

Husky’s loss of 38 cents per share excluding items was bigger than analysts’ average estimate of 24 cents, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Excluding items, Cenovus’s 37 cents per share loss was wider than the expected 6 cents. It booked a $450-million impairment on a U.S. refinery.

Credit Suisse analysts said Husky’s struggle to generate free cash flow will weigh on the combined company.

By Arunima Kumar and Rod Nickel