Tullow begins search for new chairman to replace Plunkett
TULLOW Oil, the second-largest company listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, confirmed yesterday that it is looking for a new chairman to replace Pat Plunkett.
Mr Plunkett (59) joined Tullow in 1998 after retiring as managing director of ABN AMRO Stockbrokers (Ireland) and ABN AMRO Corporate Finance. He was also a director of the Irish Stock Exchange between 1995 and 1998.
Tullow has appointed stockbrokers to begin the search for his successor.
The explorer has transformed itself since the 1990s from a Carlow engineering company that looked for oil in Co Kilkenny into one of Africa's most important oil companies and the third-largest oil company on the London Stock Exchange, with a market value of €11.7bn.
His departure comes at a time when Tullow is expected to complete the $1.5bn (€1.2bn) buyout of partners in Uganda where it owns three major oil fields.
Mr Plunkett is stepping down 10 years after he became chairman. Most investors say large companies should change their chairman after nine years.
"One of the Tullow board's stated objectives for 2010, as declared in the recent annual report, is to develop a clear roadmap for non-executive director refreshment and chairman succession and while this process has begun, it is at a very early stage," the company said in a statement yesterday.
Tullow's fortunes began in the late 1980s when it bought licences in Senegal, but the company's big break came in 2001 when it paid £200m (€235m) for North Sea gas fields that helped quadruple its sales in five years. It has since found significant amounts of oil in Africa, notably in Uganda and Ghana.
While Tullow chief executive and former Aer Lingus accountant Adrian Heavey has often emphasised that the company will remain an exploration company, he is also eager to develop the company's production capacity to bring Tullow closer to the so-called Seven Sisters who dominate the oil industry.
Mr Plunkett has sold shares regularly over the years but still has 761,000 shares according to recent filings. This gives him a paper fortune of more than €10m at today's prices.
The former ABN Amro banker was listed as the 295th wealthiest man in Ireland in the recent 'Sunday Times' rich list with a personal fortune of €17m.
As a stockbroker, Mr Plunkett won 'Finance' magazine's first award for best coverage of the financial sector back in 1987.