* Possible improper practices involve third parties
* Appoints new governance and compliance officer
* New officer to report back in 4-6 weeks
* Shares drop 8 percent
By Anthony Deutsch and Sara Webb
AMSTERDAM, April 10 Dutch maritime oil and gas
engineer SBM Offshore, which recently posted losses
arising from disputes with clients, on Tuesday warned it had
found evidence of possibly "improper" sales practices involving
SBM said last year its management board had launched a
review of the company's compliance procedures, including
anti-corruption guidelines, and their implementation.
"As part of this review, the company has recently become
aware of certain sales practices involving third parties which
may have been improper," SBM said in a statement.
"Outside counsel and forensic accountants, reporting to both
the Management and Supervisory Boards, have been engaged to
investigate these practices thoroughly."
The news sent SBM's shares down nearly 8 percent early on
SBM said it had taken the necessary steps to terminate any
such practices and had disclosed its internal investigation to
the appropriate authorities.
Newly appointed chief governance and compliance officer
Sietze Hepkema declined to discuss any details of the practices
under review or in which countries they took place.
He said in an interview that external authorities were not
currently investigating the practices and that he would report
back on next steps "within four to six weeks."
Hepkema's appointment comes amid ongoing conflicts with
Canadian group Encana, which is working on the Deep
Panuke gas project off the coast of Nova Scotia, and Talisman
Energy, which is developing the Yme oilfield, offshore
Reviewing what when wrong at those projects would be a top
priority in coming weeks, Hepkema said.
SBM has said it expects impairment charges relating to those
projects of more than $850 million.
Hepkema was a partner with Allen & Overy and has specialised
in international corporate law, with a particular focus on
corporate governance and corporate finance, the company said.
He will begin work immediately and his appointment to the
management board will be subject to shareholders' approval.
Losses on the Encana and Talisman projects prompted a
bigger-than-expected net loss for 2011, forced SBM to scrap its
dividend and prompted a management shake-up, with the
appointment of a new chief executive and a new finance chief.