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Cove Energy €780m buyout may see bosses pocket €40m

DUBLINER Michael Nolan and John Craven, a well-known name in the Irish exploration sector, may share up to €40m from the takeover of their oil and gas company, Cove Energy, which started a sale process last week.

The company is thought to have a price tag of around €780m.

Shares in the company have rocketed sixfold in just over two years.

Cove Energy is active off the coast of East Africa, an area which is now seen as one of the sexiest exploration territories in the world for major oil and gas companies. Cove Energy's most attractive asset is its 8.5 per cent stake in a major gas find off the coast of Mozambique.

Belfast-educated Mr Craven was one of the founders of Irish exploration firm Petroceltic, which is making waves in Algeria. Mr Nolan is Cove Energy's finance chief, having formerly served as chief executive of Irish mining firm Minmet.

Mr Craven, Mr Nolan and company chairman Michael Blaha own around five per cent of the company, although much of this is tied in to stock option grants.

It has been suggested that an offer of up to £1.80 per share could be sought. It has also been suggested that Cove rebuffed a £1.50 per share approach last year. A number of Irish investors, including Tom O'Gorman, are thought to be backers.

Sunday Indo Business