Business Irish

Thursday 18 January 2018

Petroceltic's O'Cathain sees off shareholder challenge at EGM

Petroceltic chief executive Brian O’Cathai
Petroceltic chief executive Brian O’Cathai
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Brian O'Cathain saw off a shareholder challenge and retained his job as chief executive of Petroceltic following a lively extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Dublin yesterday.

But Angelo Moskov, who heads up Petroceltic's biggest shareholder and who called for the ballot to oust the chief executive, said last night that he will come back to shareholders with new proposals aimed at furthering his opposition to the current management and strategy.

"There may be more changes that need to be made to the board, and that may mean more EGMs," he said yesterday.

Just over 61pc of shares voted against a motion proposed by Mr Moskov's Worldview Capital that would have unseated the head of the Irish oil and gas company, versus 39pc of votes in favour, at the meeting.

The EGM and litigation that Worldview has initiated against Petroceltic were a "last resort", Mr Moskov said.

Speaking after the ballots had been counted, Brian O'Cathain said he was "pleased to have received the support of shareholders".

"Hopefully that is the end of this," he said.

The ballot saw around 90pc of the 1,365 stock holders who voted come down in favour of the incumbent management, the company said.

In all, five separate motions proposed by 29pc shareholder Worldview Capital were defeated, including to appoint Maurice Dijols and Angelo Moskov to the board.

Mr Moskov, founder of Swiss investment firm Worldview Capital, said he was seeking significant changes at the company including the ousting of the ceo based on a fundamental disagreement over the company strategy. Speaking from the floor of the EGM, he said he believed Petroceltic would "shortly run into problems" if it continues on its current trajectory.

Shareholders turned up in their hundreds for the vote and were told the Petroceltic board "strongly recommended" shareholders reject the Worldview move, following a director vote that came down four to two against the Swiss investor.

The EGM was the culmination of an increasingly bitter row has seen management accuse Worldview of attempting a takeover of the business, without tabling a bid, and the Swiss investor accuse management of destroying shareholder value.

Worldview says Petroceltic is investing too much money in capital expenditure and injecting that money into the wrong assets.

Worldview tabled motions to oust the Irish company's chief executive and to appoint its own nominees to the board as non-executives.

While the Petroceltic board and management won all of the motions put to shareholders, in the case of Worldview's suggestion that oil industry veteran Mr Dijols join the board the margin was wafer-thin with 50.92pc of votes cast against him and more than 49pc in favour.

New directors Nicholas Gay and Neeve Billis will join the Petroceltic board, after the two company nominees were elected by shareholders.

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