Worldview to challenge Petroceltic vote result

Worldview Capital Management is set to formally challenge the result of yesterday’s shareholder vote that saw investors side with Dublin explorer Petroceltic in the stand-off between the two parties.

Worldview to challenge Petroceltic vote result

The Swiss-based investment firm, which owns nearly 30% of Petroceltic, had called the EGM in the hope of boosting its presence on the board and removing the firm’s chief executive, Brian O’Cathain.

However, each of the five resolutions were passed in favour of the Irish firm. As much as 85% of Petroceltic’s share register voted, with over 61% voting in favour of Mr O’Cathain remaining at the helm.

Worldview’s bids to get industry veteran, Maurice Dijols appointed to the board, as well as its own CEO, Angelo Moskov, both failed; while Petroceltic succeeded in getting its extra nominees, Nicholas Gay and Neeve Billis, appointed.

However, the slender margins in the votes for Mr Billis and against Mr Dijols have upset Worldview, which is now planning to submit a formal request to Petroceltic chairman Robert Adair, to check the validity of the voting process. The Dijols resolution was voted down on a 50.92%-49.08% advantage, while Mr Billis was voted in with just a 50.14% majority.

“Worldview demands that the chairman confirms whether and how he, or the registrars, exercised any discretion to accept or reject any votes cast. If this request is refused, Worldview believes that shareholders should have serious concerns about the openness of the process,” Mr Moskov’s firm said yesterday.

While Mr Moskov said the company is unchanged in its opinions about Petroceltic’s board, he said he is “open to any meaningful proposition from the company” and added that Worldview “continues to evaluate its options”.

“Worldview does not support the appointments of Neeve Billis and Nicholas Gay or the continued board presence of Brian O’Cathain, who we maintain has been the primary architect of the company’s failed strategy,” the company added in a statement.

At yesterday’s meeting, Petroceltic chairman Robert Adair said that the company’s board remains open to working with Worldview “in an open and constructive manner”.

Speaking after the vote result, Brian O’Cathain said that mangement doesn’t want to be fighting with shareholders and hopes to be able to “get back to normal business” and “a normal relationship” with its largest independent shareholder.

Mr O’Cathain suggested that further moves for shareholder votes would be wasteful of resources, noting that more than 90% of the 1,365 institutional investor votes went in favour of the board at yesterday’s meeting.

Worldview has accused Petroceltic’s management of investing in the “wrong” projects, taking too long to commercialise key assets and being in danger of running out of cash. Mr O’Cathain yesterday reiterated that the explorer will be refining its operational focus on key regions such as Algeria, Egypt and Italy; while exiting the Black Sea region and Greece.

He also re-stated that the company is not planning a capital/equity raise this year, following its $100m raise last summer. He said any funding gap between the end of its farm-out cost coverings in Algeria and first gas flow from that country’s Ain Tsila field, in late 2018, would likely come from additional debt.

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