Petroceltic investor ‘to force sale’

Irish exploration firm Petroceltic has put the blame for its recent share price slide squarely at the door of activist investor Worldview Capital Management, accusing it of trying to force a sale of the company.

Petroceltic investor ‘to force sale’

Despite a no-show at Petroceltic’s AGM in Dublin, yesterday afternoon, the Swiss-based investment fund — which owns a near 30% stake in the Irish explorer — made its presence felt earlier in the day by formally requesting an EGM to block any asset sales without shareholder consent.

As it stated last week regarding a similar Worldview call for a shareholder vote on its pending $175m (€160m) debt raise, Petroceltic said that it would take legal advice on the matter, but noted that it would be a “time-consuming and unnecessary process” to have such a meeting.

Worldview has also followed through on its promise of taking its legal case against Petroceltic — where it has alleged that the Irish firm has failed to undertake a strategic review of its business — to the High Court here after initially failing in London.

In response to that, Petroceltic said that while it would prefer to avoid significant litigation costs and focus on its day-to-day operations, it will “vigorously contest and defend” the allegations — if the proceedings go ahead — and seek to recover all costs incurred in doing so.

Chief executive Brian O’Cathain yesterday said that while bond investor appetite remains strong, the feud with Worldview has dented retail investor confidence, blaming the situation for the firm’s 30%+ share price decline over recent months.

He suggested it looked like Worldview is trying to “force us to put the company up for sale,” before adding that the company is “always for sale” but with commodity prices the way they are, now would not be the opportune time.

“We have to protect the interest of all shareholders, not just do what Worldview want,” he told reporters after yesterday’s meeting.

Petroceltic also still holds plans to upgrade its share listings to the main lists of the London and Dublin Stock Exchanges and plans to do so “at the earliest opportunity” post its debt raise.

Chief financial officer Tom Hickey told shareholders that the upcoming debt raise would not increase the firm’s indebtedness and the company could refinance some of its existing senior debt next year.

Meanwhile, all resolutions were passed at yesterday’s meeting, except three special votes — including the ability to issue up to 5% of equity without shareholder approval. The special resolutions needed 75% approval, which was never likely given Worldview’s interest.

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