Shareholder rebellion mounts at Capricorn Energy with fresh calls for major overhaul of the board
The row engulfing Capricorn Energy deepened after a growing list of shareholders called for a major overhaul of the board.
With its future in the balance, the FTSE 250 oil and gas firm saw three more investors join a revolt led by its third-largest shareholder Palliser Capital to oust the chief executive, finance boss and five other directors.
Palliser said Irenic Capital Management, VR Global Partners and an unnamed shareholder have backed its call to remove seven of the nine board members and appoint six directors as part of a plan to ‘unlock up to 400p of shareholder value’.
The comments piled more pressure on Capricorn.
Palliser on Monday called for a general meeting to allow investors to vote for its proposal.
It has already gathered support from three of Capricorn’s biggest shareholders – Madison Avenue Partners, Kite Lake Capital Management and Newtyn Management.
Asset manager Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) also came out on Tuesday to voice its concerns over the board. This means that 39 per cent of Capricorn shareholders favour a boardroom shake-up.
Palliser also claimed 40 per cent oppose a merger with NewMed – Israel’s leading energy partnership – to create a gas producer focused on Israel and Egypt.
Capricorn has sought to defend its deal, insisting nearly £100million would be cut from a planned £510million special dividend if the merger collapsed.
It marks a difficult end to an eventful year for Capricorn Energy, whose attempts over the summer to merge with fellow mid-cap oil and gas firm Tullow Oil were scuppered by rebellious shareholders.
A company which mines for silver and gold in the Scottish highlands had to lower its production forecast following mining difficulties and a spell of bad weather this month.
Scotgold Resources expects to produce 2,000 ounces of gold in the last three months of the year, down from an earlier forecast of up to 3,500 ounces.
Revenues were £9.9million for last year compared with £167,000 12 months earlier.
But losses more than doubled to £6million.
Shares plunged 11 per cent, or 6.5p, to 52.5p.
Panmure Gordon analyst Ashley Kelty said Palliser’s call for a general meeting was hardly a ‘huge shock’.
He said: ‘I’m not sure that Palliser will manage to remove the board, but it does give holders a chance to show their feelings to Capricorn ahead of the NewMed vote.’
Shares in Capricorn rose 1.2 per cent, or 3p, to 249.4p. Tullow Oil added 6.6 per cent, or 2.34p, to 37.98p.
Rising oil prices, with Brent crude up 2.6pc, helped to lift the energy stocks. BP gained 2.7pc, or 12.55p, to 480p and Shell rose 2pc, or 47p, to 2354.5p.
The FTSE 100 made a third consecutive session of gains, rising 1.72 per cent, or 126.7 points, to 7497.32 and the FTSE 250 is also up 1.72 per cent, or 318.89 points, to 18,863.65.
It was a better day for retailers in general amid a pick-up in demand this month.
A monthly survey by the CBI showed sales bounced back in December following a nasty slump in November, easing fears of a High Street bloodbath this Christmas.
Ocado gained 4.8 per cent, or 30p, to 651.6p and Next rose 2.7 per cent, or 150p, to 5658p.
Pubs were boosted too, with Wetherspoon up 4.1 per cent, or 17.2p, to 441.6p, Mitchells & Butlers rising 3.4 per cent, or 4.5p, to 138.5p and Marston’s climbing 1.7 per cent, or 0.64p, to 38.22p.
There was good news for AstraZeneca after EU regulators approved two of the pharma giant’s drug treatments for cancer patients. Shares rose 1.1 per cent, or 118p, to 11244p.
Bunzl, meanwhile, said a spree of acquisitions would help drive a 17 per cent rise in revenues this year and another increase next year.
The group, which supplies products such as disposable tableware and latex gloves to private companies and the public sector, said it spent more than £280million on acquisitions over the year.
But shares fell 1 per cent, or 27p, to 2793p.
Carnival rose 4 per cent, or 23.4p, to 611p after its fourth quarter losses were not as bad as feared.
The P&O Cruises and Cunard group posted a loss of £910million for the three months to November, which was lower than expected.
Author: John Abiona, Daily Mail
Director, Research Analyst, Oil & Gas