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Encana Executive Curses On Call, Company Wants Audio Removed (Strong Language)

02/21/2013 04:33 EST | Updated 02/21/2013 05:37 EST
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A lawyer for Encana Corp, Canada's largest natural gas producer, is demanding the removal of an audio file of a company executive cursing at an analyst, The Globe and Mail reports.

The company apologized last week because one of its executives' cursed after an analyst asked about whether new Canadian investment rules would prohibit its takeover by foreign state-owned entities.

When asked the question by Canaccord Genuity analyst Phil Skolnick, interim CEO Clayton Woitas said: "The answer would be no." Then, in a whispered comment that was clearly audible on a replay of the call, someone can be heard saying, "fucking asshole."

A Globe and Mail reporter posted the audio file online, and Encana requested the founder of the website where the audio file was posted, Chirbit, to remove it, the newspaper reports.

"Something like that should never have been said and we're sorry about it," Jay Averill, a spokesman for the company said last week.

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It is not the first time that open microphones have proved problematic for corporate executives. In 2007, the CEO of U.S. student lender SLM Corp, Albert Lord, was caught saying at the end of a testy conference call: "There's no questions - let's get the fuck out of here."

Lord subsequently apologized, saying he recognized his "comments were offensive."

And in taped comments in 2001, then-Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling mockingly thanked an analyst for a question on a conference call, ending with the clearly audible word: "Asshole."

The abusive comment was subsequently seen by short sellers as a sign of how much pressure Skilling was under at the time as Enron's accounts, which were later discovered to be fraudulent, began to unravel.

"If I could go back and redo things, I would not have used the term that I used," Skilling, who is currently serving a prison sentence for his role in the Enron scandal, later told a Congressional hearing.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that Encana's CEO cursed at the analyst. The person swearing has not been identified by Encana.

With files from Reuters