Valaris CEO, CFO Step Down. Ex-Seadrill CEO Takes Helm

Offshore drilling firm Valaris said Thursday its CEO Tom Burke would step down from his position as President and Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, and that its CFO Jon Baksht would step down, too, both effective September 2, 2021. 

Anton Dibowitz, a current Board member, and former CEO of Seadrill, has been appointed as interim President and Chief Executive Officer  of Valaris, effective September 3, 2021.

“Mr. Burke will continue to support Valaris for a period to ensure a smooth leadership transition for the Company. He also will remain on the Board of Directors of ARO Drilling, a 50/50 joint venture between Valaris and Saudi Aramco,” Valaris said.

As for the outgoing CFO Baksht, the Valaris Board of Directors has appointed Darin Gibbins, the Company’s Vice President – Investor Relations and Treasurer, as interim Chief Financial Officer effective September 3, 2021.

Burke, who has been CEO of Valaris since the company was formed after the merger of Ensco Rowan in 2019, said Thursday he appreciated the opportunity to have been CEO “and to have worked with all of the great employees of Valaris and its outstanding leadership team.”

“Together, we have navigated one of the most difficult downturns our industry has ever faced – and we came out positioned for success. I am proud of the Valaris team, its resilience, and great potential, and I depart the company knowing that the business is strong, in good hands, and has a bright future.”

Valaris had filed for bankruptcy in August 2020, and it on April 30, 2021, successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from chapter 11. 

Commenting on the appointment of Dibowitz as Interim CEO, Elizabeth Leykum, Chair of the Board said.”Anton brings more than twenty years of experience in the offshore drilling industry to the CEO role. His familiarity with our business, customers, and culture combined with his extensive industry expertise will allow him to continue to build upon our positive momentum and solid foundation. We look forward to working closely with Anton, Tom, Jon, Darin, and the entire Valaris executive team to ensure a smooth transition.”

Dibowitz, who was the CEO of Seadrill until October 2020 and who joined the Valaris Board in July, said: “My time on the Valaris Board of Directors has only served to reinforce my understanding of Valaris as a world-class organization. During this transition, we will maintain our focus on our top priority of delivering safe and efficient operations for our customers, who continue to validate our position as the offshore driller of choice, having awarded Valaris more than 20 new contracts or extensions, with the associated backlog in excess of $1.3 billion, since early May. 

“With the strongest balance sheet in the offshore drilling sector, unmatched scale and geographic diversity, and a modern, best-in-class fleet, Valaris is well-positioned to take advantage of strategic opportunities and a steadily improving market.”

Leykum further said: “We are grateful to Tom and Jon for their valuable contributions to Valaris. They successfully led us through a prolonged and challenging downturn in the energy sector, establishing Valaris as a sound and financially stable entity. We thank them for their leadership and wish Tom and Jon the best going forward.”

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