Saturday 16 December 2017

Worldview case against Petroceltic dismissed

Brian O'Cathain, chief executive of Petroceltic
Brian O'Cathain, chief executive of Petroceltic

Paul O'Donoghue

Activist investor Worldview has had a legal case against Irish oil and gas explorer Petroceltic dismissed in the English High Court, the latest in a series of bitter long-running disputes between the two companies.

The proceedings alleged that Petroceltic had failed to undertake a review of its business and sought direction from the court as to the manner in which the review was undertaken.

For its part Petroceltic has maintained that it has undertaken a suitable strategic review of the business.

In its latest set of annual accounts, Petroceltic notes that the High Court dismissed Worldview's action and awarded costs on a standard basis to Petroceltic.

Worldview Capital Management, a Swiss investment company run by Angelo Moskov, is the largest shareholder in Petroceltic with a 29pc stake.

The hedge fund launched the action amidst a bitter row with Petroceltic that ultimately saw it unsuccessfully try and unseat Brian O'Cathain, the Dublin company's CEO.

It is understood that the Petroceltic had objected to the proceedings being heard before an English court as it is an Irish-based company and that this was one of the factors in the dismissal of the case.

Worldview may now file for legal action in Ireland, although it is understood that it has not yet done so and has also not appealed the ruling of the English court.

It is understood that the costs awarded to Petroceltic did not exceed a five-figure sum.

Worldview declined to comment on the case when contacted by the Irish Independent.

A spokesman for Petroceltic said: "We are pleased that there is no outstanding shareholder litigation.

"We remain focused on implementing the company's strategic plan and working to strengthen relationships and deliver value to all shareholders."

The dismissal of Worldview's case is a reminder of the bad blood between the two firms.

The hedge fund has been frequently critical of the management of the oil and gas company.

In May last year Worldview raised objections to the terms around a $100m share placing.

In return for its support for the placing Petroceltic agreed, among other measures, to undertake a strategic review of the business.

Afterwards Worldview alleged that Petroceltic, and specifically CEO O'Cathain, did not intend to carry out a review of the company.

This accusation formed the basis of the company's attempt to oust Mr O'Cathain at an emergency general meeting earlier this year, which failed.

Earlier this week Petroceltic announced it made a loss of $282m (€254m) for the year to the end of December, up significantly from the loss of $19m the previous year.

It also announced the launch of a $175m bond issue to help fund its flagship $2bn project in Algeria, and is expecting to launch a second, larger funding round late next year.

Irish Independent

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