Under pressure, Nabors adds a new board member

Nabors Industries has agreed to add two independent directors to its board under pressure from its largest shareholder.

Pamplona Capital Management, which owns 9.3 percent of the drilling rig contractor’s shares, has pressed for changes in the company’s business.

Nabors appointed lawyer Howard Wolf, a former senior partner with the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski, to the board Thursday.

It said it will name a second independent board member in 2014.

“Howard’s appointment to the Board reflects our ongoing commitment to adding qualified independent voices with diverse experience and backgrounds,” Nabors Chairman and CEO Anthony Petrello said in a statement. “His years working with our industry and advising as well as serving on boards will provide valuable experience and insight.”

Wolf, who retired from Fulbright in 2003, currently serves on the board of Simmons & Company International, a private investment banking and securities firm specializing in the energy industry.

Alex Knaster, chairman of Pamplona Capital Management, said the agreement to add independent board members will “improve the focus on maximizing shareholder value. We are pleased with the board’s commitment to conduct a strategic review and look forward to continued constructive interaction with Nabors.”

Nabors and Pamplona also announced that Pamplona will receive an exemption from Nabors’ shareholder rights plan, allowing the fund to acquire up to 14.99% of Nabors’ common shares.

Pamplona has agreed to vote its shares in support of all of the board’s director nominees at the company’s 2013 and 2014 annual meetings.

Nabors already had announced plans to start paying dividends and address outstanding debt. It is due to release earnings after the market closes April 23.

Shares were up in early trading Friday.

In addition to his work with Fulbright, Wolf is a founding partner of Lobo Leasing, a helicopter leasing company; a director and part owner of Recovery Direct, Inc., a producer of films and videos used in the treatment of substance abuse, and of Orleans Capital Management, an investment management company; and acting Chairman of Falcon Seaboard Company, a private investment company focused on the energy, technology, real estate and agriculture sectors.