RPL – Renegade Petroleum Responds to Activist Allegations of Mismanagement

20100914-renegade-200Renegade Petroleum (RPL:TSX), the Saskatchewan-focused light oil producer, has called a special shareholder meeting as part of an ongoing dispute with an activist shareholder, FrontFour Capital Group LLC.  The news release today is in response to a release issued by FrontFour on October 31, 2013 in which the activist outlined their concerns.  The meeting will be held on January 28, 2014 and the company will mail out an information circular in advance.  FrontFour wants the opportunity to replace the board with a new slate of directors.

According to FrontFour and another un-named shareholder, who together hold 5% of RPL shares, “Renegade’s board and its advisers continue to deplete the company’s cash resources while the shares remain near an all-time low,” said Zachary George, co-founder and manager of FrontFour.  Zachary George is the son of Rick George who is currently the chairman of Penn West and formerly the CEO of Suncor.

Typically, in these situations, the real issue is that the market is not valuing the asset base correctly and blame is being allocated by individuals with different interests; management’s interests are to manage the company and its assets and FrontFour’s are to maximize returns for their investors given a certain time horizon.  As outlined by an analysis completed by FrontFour in which they used a precedent transaction to highlight the implied value of RPL : “the price per share of Renegade implied by the Acquisitions is $1.43 to $3.88 depending on the respective metric utilized, representing a potential shareholder return of approximately 30% to 252%.”

Most of the issues FrontFour has with current leadership at RPL surround the fact that last year RPL closed a $405 million deal to buy 3,600boepd from Penn West and introduced a $0.23 dividend.  By April of this year, the company announced it had hired a slate of bankers to complete a strategic review of the company including an outright sale and by July, the dividend had been cut to $0.10 and the company was selling non-core assets.  Given it is a buyer’s market for Western Canadian oil assets, management may elect to expedite the sales process and re-evaluate prior bids.

It is important to note, that on September 27 of this year, Renegade completed its Annual General Meeting whereby the board was re-elected by its shareholders.  Although this appears messy, these types of events can be followed by appreciating stock prices.  The assets of RPL are clearly being undervalued by the market for some reason.  Whether that reason is due to inefficient leadership is yet to be determined (and may never be determined, depending on the outcome of the January 28th vote).

Read: Renegade Petroleum Calls Shareholder Meeting, Provides Update on Strategic Review Process and Addresses FrontFour Allegations

Related: FronFour Capital Group Provides Update to Shareholders of Renegade Petroleum

Here’s the cause of dissident shareholders – the 1-year on RPL:

RPL Chart

Lies We Tell Ourselves To Be Liked


It is not easy for me to be honest. I grew up thinking I had to lie to people to get them to like me.

I needed to somehow be someone I wasn’t in order to burn away invisible scars that I was sure everyone could see.

I thought I had to, for instance, get into a good college for people to like me. Or be a chess master. Or even have straight hair. Or get rid of my glasses. Or acne. Or have a lot of money.

These were all lies I told myself because I didn’t think I could be liked without these medals shining bright off my shirt.

Then there were lies I told others. I told the first girl I ever went out with that I once stole a lot of money from my parents and lost it all gambling on horses.

Then her dad came to visit and he heard all about my race track adventures. So he said, “Let’s all go to the horse track!” I had never even been to the race track before.

So we went and I had no idea what I was doing and it was pretty clear that I had lied to her, like I did on many occasions before that and even after that until there was nothing left of us.

The truth is: I did steal money from my parents. But I spent it all on going to movies and buying comic books and books about chess. And I would use the money to skip school and go into New York and hang out in Washington Square Park playing chess with everyone there.

Not an exciting enough story, though, to tell a girl who wanted me to confess all sorts of things to show her what an outlaw I was instead of a jewish suburban middle class kid.

Then there’s the lies I told as I went from job to job. Skills maybe I had 10% of but I claimed 100% of. A salary that I would enhance by a few thousand so when I got an offer I’d make a few thousand more. Titles I had at old jobs that never even existed.

Then later I wouldn’t tell people I was getting a divorce. Or losing a home. Or losing hope.

Why did I tell the lies to others?

I never thought I was good enough for anything. And I always wanted more of it. If I could just get to the 4th rung on the ladder, I was sure the 5th rung had my name on it.

And even though I was sweating, hungry, unhappy, scared, I knew if I just reached that 5th rung I’d be happy. That the prize was waiting for me there.

So I’d lie to get it.

Everyone would forgive me then. Everyone would pat me on the back and have a big meeting and all say, “we knew you could do it.”

Girls who had broken up with me would claim they were only testing me, that they were also waiting for this moment. They would be side by side with the bosses that fired me. The people who had ignored me. All of them together in a big party to celebrate me.

They would all be happy, laughing and slapping me on the back.

I wouldn’t believe it.

How did they all know each other? Here they all were – loving me, because now I had finally gotten to the point where I didn’t have to lie to them anymore.

But I never reached that rung on the ladder. And I never will.

I fell off the ladder.

A few months ago I had breakfast with the CEO of a company I once worked for. They had fired me and then withheld a bonus payment I had desperately needed.

But they had since changed CEOs several times and now I was meeting their latest CEO who had reached out to me.

It was around the time they withheld that payment that I realized nobody out there at all was going to help me. Nobody would be fair. This wasn’t a blame thing. Nor was it pessimism.

I just needed to pick myself up and it’s my own fault for not dealing with good people. For not constantly being creative. For not feeling grateful.

But in order to be around good people, I also had to be a good person, not an imaginary one.

I had to feel abundant without lying about it in order to have abundance hit me. Not in a law of attraction way, but just so I could sleep at night.

It was that simple. I had to stop using all the energy in my brain coming up with imaginary futures. The brain is too powerful and needs a lot of fuel to keep the lies going.

Better to use that fuel for being happy and good now than to make up futures and anxieties and regrets.

The CEO told me, “I heard you had a heart attack or a nervous breakdown a few years ago. That’s what everyone told me.”

I couldn’t believe what she said. To me I had just had the most fulfilling and successful few years of my life.

But to the people who knew me, to people looking in from the outside, it appeared to be a nervous breakdown, as every facade fell away. I had been buried in my lies and now I no longer was.

“No,” I told her, “I’ve been healthier than I had ever been.”

She repeated it, “Everyone insists you had at least a nervous breakdown.”

Maybe I did. But I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t broke. And I wasn’t down.


How I Exorcised a Ghost, Plus a Reading List


An actual ghost came into our room while we were sleeping. It was the fourth night of our vacation.

The ghost opened up the DVD player and closed it for about a half hour. First I kept dreaming about the noise.

Finally we were both sort of half awake and we were like, “what is that noise?” So we turned on the lights and the DVD player was opening closing non-stop.

There’s a wikipedia entry for the vacation house we were renting. It actually says in Wikipedia there’s a ghost in the house. So I joked around, “maybe it’s the ghost.”

I got out of bed and walked towards the DVD player. It closed and then it stopped opening when I was about one foot from it. I waited for awhile. It didn’t open again.

I said, “I guess that’s it.” I was tired.

We went back to sleep. Within five minutes the DVD player started opening and closing again. Claudia said, “It’s the ghost!”

I went over there and I unplugged the DVD player. It stopped opening and closing.

I exorcised the ghost and we slept for the rest of the night with no more problems.

When I’m not bravely battling ghosts or doing stuff with my kids and Claudia, I’m reading. I try to read 3-4 hours every morning or night.

When I read I’ll read a chapter or two from one book and then go onto the next book. Eventually I get through with all the books. But each day I like to diversify my mind by reading a splattering from many books.

Here’s my reading list. These are all books I’ve at least touched in the past ten days.

“The Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut. I never read it before.

“Vintage Didion” by Joan Didion. I had never read anything by Joan Didion. Some author I like said she was a big influence but I forget which author.

“Kick Me” by Paul Feig. I had read it once before about two years ago. He wrote the series “Freaks and Geeks” and a ton of other fun stuff.

“Honored Guest” by Joy Williams. Short stories. When I wrote a bad novel about 21 years ago I showed it to a professor who said I should read her books. So now I finally am.

“Bird by Bird” – a guide to writing by Anne Lamott. Almost as good as Stephen King’s “On Writing”.

“Notes from the Underground” by Dostoevsky. Why not?

“Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls” by Alisa Nutting. Stories. Haven’t really touched it yet.

“Newsjacking” by David Scott. Recommended by Ryan Holiday. About how to hijack the news for your marketing events. I’m anonymously doing some fiction around this idea.

“Run With the Hunted” by Charles Bukowski. Snippets from his poetry, stories, and novels that seem to go in chronological order. It’s good.

“The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. Sort of like “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

“Where’d You Go Bernadette” – ranked #1 in literary humor on Amazon. It’s not really funny but it has an interesting style of moving the story along via letters sent from various characters to each other.

“Hacking Hollywood” by Fast Company writers. I bought it just for the discussion between Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow but there are some other good sections.

“Rivethead” by Ben Hamper. A GM autoworker writes about his experiences. Somewhat Bukowski-like. A bit more ego.

“Travels” by Michael Crichton. Someone just recommended it to me. Looks good. I’ve never read anything by Crichton but the first two chapters were good.

“Stoner” by John Williams. One of the best, little known, novels ever.

“Standup Guys” – John Debellis. A memoir of standup comedy in the 70s. Lots of mention of Larry David and other well-known comics.

“Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson. A collection of short stories. I never go anywhere without occasionally rereading one of the stories. Chuck Pahlianuk (author of “Fight Club”) says he’s read this book over 300 times.

Any other good book recommendations welcome. I like strong autobiographical fiction.

I left off one or two books that I started and didn’t like. I don’t like to put down books. People are trying to make a living from them and put a lot of work into them.

Now I’m going to play ping pong. Claudia is deluded into thinking she’s gotten better than me but I have to prove her wrong. Because that’s the way I roll.

There’s No Painless Way To Kill Yourself


I gave my 11 year old daughter important advice the other day: there’s no painless way to kill yourself.

“What about with a gun?” she said.

I told her about a friend of mine who shot himself in the mouth. He put the gun in his mouth and pointed upwards towards the brain.

He missed.

He shot off half his face, he went blind in one eye, and he is now in a wheelchair.

If you type in “I Want to Die” into google, my website is the first result.

My first business I sold for $15 million. We built websites for entertainment companies. Bad Boy Records, Miramax, Time Warner, HBO, Sony, Disney, Loud Records, Interscope, on and on. Oh, and Con Edison.

Mobb Deep would hang out in my office. Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails would stop by. RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan would want to play chess. We even made a website for a brothel in Nevada.

Then I saw that kids in junior high school were learning HTML. So I sold the business.

I bought an apartment for millions. I rebuilt it. Feng Shui! I bought art. I played a lot of poker. I began investing in companies. A million here. A few hundred thousand there.

Then I started more companies. Then I bought more things. Then I became an addict. The worst kind of addict.

From June 2000 until September, 2001 I probably lost $1 million a month.

I couldn’t stop. I wanted to get back up to the peak.

I wanted to be loved. I wanted to have $100 million so people would love me.

Writing this now I even feel like slitting my wrists and stomach. I have 2 kids.

I felt like I was going to die. That zero equals death. I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been.

I lost all my friends. Nobody returned calls. I would go to the ATM machine – from $15 million to $143 left.

There were no jobs, There was nothing.

One weekend when I had $0 left in my bank account I called my parents to borrow money but they said “no”. “College was enough” they told me, even though I had ended up paying for every dime of college. That was the last time I spoke to my dad, who had a stroke six months later.

I tried meditation to calm down but it didn’t work. I never slept. I lost 30 lbs. I’m 5’9″. I went from 160 to 130. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I couldn’t move. I stopped having ideas. I cried every day.

There was never a moment when I didn’t feel sick. I had let my kids down. I would die and they would never remember me.

We moved 80 miles north of NYC with the tiny bit of money we took out of our apartment after being forced to sell at a million dollar loss.

I couldn’t leave the house for three months. I was depressed. I gained back all my weight and then another 30 lbs.

Finally I had to either die or feed my family. I was forced to choose myself.

  • I started to exercise every day. I started to eat better. One item for breakfast. A healthy lunch. Tiny dinner. No snacks.
  • I started to sleep 9 hours a day.
  • I started to only be around people who loved and supported me. I broke off all ties with anyone who I felt bad to be around.
  • I wrote down ideas every day of articles I could write and about businesses I could start. Bit by bit I started to get paid to write. If you don’t exercise the idea muscle it atrophies.
  • I decided I wanted to help people every day and be honest every day. I was grateful for my daughters. I was grateful for what I had. I didn’t fight reality or regret. This was my reality and I had to make the best of it.
  • Every day I came up with ideas for new businesses. I had a waiter’s pad. I would go to a cafe at 6 in the morning with about 4 books and read for an hour or two and then start writing down ideas for new businesses, articles, etc.
  • I started a hedge fund. I started a fund of hedge funds. I started a newsletter. I did deals. I made introductions every day, expanding my brand new network from scratch. At least 5 introductions a day.
  • I got involved in a mental health company I sold for $41 million.
  • I started a website, Stockpickr! which got millions of unique users. I found advertising for it. I sold it to thestreet.com
  • I had made millions again from scratch.

Then I stopped using the fundamental techniques I described above. Every time I’ve lost money it’s because I squandered my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

I was really bad. I did everything you should not do. I was like an addict. Picture the worst abuses. That was me. Again.

And then I lost it all again. Everything. Agh!

I had to start over. I couldn’t even believe I had to start from scratch atgain.

Every day without fail I focus on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. And it’s worked. I hope. I hope I don’t squander again.

People say it’s not about the end, it’s about the journey.

This is total BS.

It’s not about the journey and it never was.

It’s about right now.

Right now is the only place you’ll ever be. Choose yourself not to waste it.

Life in Perspective: John Candy

Remembering one of Canada’s greats who died nineteen years ago today.

Image: The Guardian

It was nineteen years ago today that John Candy passed away in his sleep from a heart attack while filming a movie in Durango, Mexico. Appearing in over 40 films, John led an illustrious career, becoming one of Canada’s most successful entertainers.

Born in 1950, John grew up in Toronto, attending an all boys Catholic school where he played football. After graduating he managed to take community college drama courses while holding various odd jobs around the city. By his early 20s he had gained experience on stage at Toronto’s Tarragon Theater, and on set in a couple small movies produced around Toronto. He knew he belonged in front of an audience but lacked the boldness to make any big moves into the industry.

His big break came when friends Dan Aykroyd and Valerie Harper signed him up for an audition in Toronto for Second City Television (SCTV), knowing he was far too modest to sign up himself. When he arrived at the audition under the assumption he would only be providing moral support for his friends, he was completely unaware as to why he was actually brought along. But when the casting director called his name, his friends shoved him backstage and reminded him that he had nothing to lose. And the gamble paid off — John swept the Chicago comedy scouts off their feet. Aykroyd would later recall that the scouts were more excited to get Candy, than they were himself or Harper.

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A Modern Perspective on Education

Our current system of education judges individuals against a preconceived idea of the optimal academic mind. In this RSA Animate video Sir Ken Robinson claims that our conformist method of education is antiquated, and needs to be updated if we are to reach our full potential.

Robinson illustrates how our children are “living in the most intensely stimulating period in . . . history, . . . they are being besieged with information and cause for their attention from every platform, and we are penalizing them for getting distracted from boring stuff at school”.

Robinson then shows how our need to anesthetize our children in school inhibits creativity and their ability to think out of the box, preventing our children from reaching their full potential. It is perhaps now more than ever that creativity, and ones ability to think laterally, is most valuable. If we are to succeed we must get ourselves ahead of the game; how can we do this if all we know is conformity?

Gold – Rob McEwen’s Dad

“When I Am Facing A Large Challenge…I Draw Inspiration From My Father…He was Unstoppable…No Obstacle Could Deter Him.”

A model to emulate in giving is company builder Rob McEwen–founder of GoldCorp, creator of McEwen Mining and the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

As recent keynote speaker of the 124th annual Toronto Board of Trade dinner, Rob indicated that, “Whenever I am facing a large challenge, I draw inspiration from my fathers courage and determination. I feel very fortunate to have had such an empowering role model in my life.”

Beginning at the 13:30 mark, he retold his father’s story saying, “He came home[from WW II] at age 20 a paraplegic in an iron lung. The doctors…gave him a bleak picture of the future. He would never get out of bed again. And his legs to prevent infection, were going to be cut off. He didn’t accept that view…he decided he wasn’t going to stay in bed for the rest of his life” He pushed himself to his limits in rehabilitation,  “Until his palms were red, raw and bleeding…he pushed himself hard, exercising his muscles, until one day, he was able to stand and walk with the use of crutches…From that point on he was unstoppable…No obstacle could deter him.”

In reflecting on this touching story–what can we each gather from our family histories? Who was it that struggled to put you through school, give you values, or nurture you with food? What did they have to conquer–to see to it that life would bless you with a greater future?