Business Irish

Sunday 4 December 2016

Brian O Cathain and Tom Hickey step down, as wipeout of Petroceltic shareholders confirmed

Published 19/06/2016 | 02:30

Former Petroceltic chief executive Brian O Cathain, speaking at the explorer’s AGM last year. Photo: Damien Eagers
Former Petroceltic chief executive Brian O Cathain, speaking at the explorer’s AGM last year. Photo: Damien Eagers

Petroceltic shareholders are confirmed to have their holdings almost entirely wiped out after Worldview took control of the company last Thursday.

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Employees managed to win better terms after voting down an initial examinership scheme, getting 20pc of payments, which had been estimated at some €3.6m, due to them under "change of control" clauses in their contracts rather than the 5pc originally proposed.

However, there was no change to the terms which provide for each of 9,034 shareholders to get a payment of 31c each regardless of the size of their holding. Each Petroceltic share was worth 221p as recently as 2014, and Dragon Oil had made an indicative takeover offer at 230p a share but ultimately walked away after turbulence in the markets.

Worldview has prevailed in a bitter battle for control of Petroceltic that has been ongoing since December 2014. Just one year later, Petroceltic announced that it had breached bank covenants, partly as a result of the drop in oil prices. Egyptian exploration assets were sold off to a joint venture partner and the company received a series of rolling waivers from its lenders, until Worldview's examinership application foiled another.

On Thursday night the board at the oil and gas explorer said that it would resign, with Brian O Cathain and Tom Hickey leaving their respective roles as chief executive and finance director.

Worldview chief executive Angelo Moskov said his company "looks forward to working with the Petroceltic team to ensure the long term success of the company as it develops its assets."

Worldview would not provide any further detail on its plan for the assets when contacted by the Sunday Independent.

Petroceltic's Egyptian production assets had attracted interest from Irish firms T5 Oil & Gas and Aminex in recent months, with the company engaged in furious efforts to raise cash.

The market will also monitor with interest the future of the Ain Tsila gas asset in Algeria, which Petroceltic repeatedly referred to as world class and which it said could begin producing gas in early 2019. Worldview has called Ain Tsila the company's crown jewel.

Moskov will be appointed to the company's board, the High Court heard last Thursday.

Sunday Indo Business

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