Departing SandRidge COO gets $9 million payout, basketball tickets

SandRidge Energy Inc's resigning chief operating officer Matthew Grubb will receive more than $9 million in exit payments as well as use of the oil and gas company's tickets to professional basketball games.

Oklahoma City-based SandRidge has been under fire since last year from activist hedge fund TPG-Axon Capital for strategic missteps and governance lapses, mostly surrounding land deals by Chief Executive Tom Ward and his family.

SandRidge and TPG-Axon struck a deal on Wednesday that placed four TPG-Axon board nominees on the oil and gas company's board and could lead to the removal of Ward. SandRidge also announced Grubb's resignation.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Grubb is entitled to a cash payout of nearly $3 million under the terms of his separation agreement. Grubb's restricted stock - currently worth more than $6 million - will vest, the filing said.

He will also have access to four of the company's tickets to the Oklahoma City Thunder - the National Basketball Association team partially owned by CEO Ward.

According to the separation agreement, Grubb is entitled to use two of the company's floor tickets - among the arena's most expensive - and two of the company's lower bowl tickets for the remainder of this year's basketball season and playoffs.

The Thunder, which feature three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, reached the NBA finals last year.

Grubb is also required to assist SandRidge with any investigations or litigation. As part of its settlement with TPG-Axon, SandRidge agreed to engage an independent firm to review the land deals by Ward and his family.

TPG-Axon has alleged that Ward and the company's board 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 has said that its board found no wrongdoing in the land deals and that WCT was "an independent oil and gas company."

But a Reuters review of chief executive Ward's employment contracts found that SandRidge's board had given Ward and his family wide latitude to profit from personal oil-and-gas deals in ways that could pose potential conflicts of interest.

Ward has not responded to repeated requests for comment about his or his family's land deals.

(Reporting by Michael Erman in New York and Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Bernard Orr)