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Irish oil firm may face probe over stock bump ahead of news on deal

AN Irish exploration company may face a stock exchange investigation after the firm's share price increased sharply ahead of a public announcement yesterday.

Shares in Fastnet Oil & Gas surged more than 80pc in Dublin and nearly 40pc in London in the past fortnight. The company then announced yesterday the Moroccan government had signed off on a farm-down of part of its licence in that country.

Last night, a spokesman for the Irish Stock Exchange said it did not comment on individual companies as a matter of course. It does, however, investigate unusual share price movements when they arise.

Fastnet chairman Cathal Friel strongly denied any suggestion of impropriety and pointed to renewed activity by the company at investor road shows and similar presentations.

"We have been out on the road in the last fortnight and have been speaking to a lot of potential investors, which we hadn't done in the weeks prior to that," he said.

The company gave a presentation to private clients of Dolmen Stockbrokers earlier this month, a number of whom are believed to have bought into Fastnet afterwards.

Shares in the company had been almost flat during August and September before jumping sharply on increased volumes since the start of this month.

Shares fell 9.7pc in London to close at 22.13 pence yesterday. In Dublin the company closed at 29c after a single trade of 5,000 shares.

Irish Independent