DALLAS—Crisis communications specialist Sitrick & Company has been retained by Halliburton, the Texas energy services company that has been embroiled in controversy over its accounting practices—and the role of vice president Dick Cheney, who was previously chief executive at Halliburton, in those practices.
In addition to a shareholder lawsuit alleging fraudulent accounting practices and a Securities & Exchange Commission investigation, Halliburton is seeking to negotiate a settlement over asbestos-related litigation, but Sitrick has apparently been hired to handle ongoing investor relations rather than providing crisis counsel.
Agency president Michael Sitrick told The Washington Post, “Although we are known for our high-profile work in sensitive situations, we have a very substantial corporate-relations practice. We’re not trying to have perceptions lead reality, we’re trying to have perceptions equal reality.”
Halliburton, which recently announced a corporate restructuring, posted a $476 million first-half loss, after revenues declined 3.7 percent to $6.2 billion. With shareholders concerned about up to $602 million in asbestos liability—resulting from its acquisition of Dresser Industries—the company’s share price has been cut in half over the past year and is now trading at around $14.
The company recently changed its legal team, dismissing its longtime corporate law firm Vinson & Elkins (which also represented Enron) and replacing it will Baker Botts, headed by former secretary of state James Baker, who also ran President George W. Bush’s election recount campaign in Florida. Cheney has separate representation.