Fastnet Oil & Gas, a new company backed by seasoned Irish exploration investors, will begin trading tomorrow in London and Dublin after raising £10m (€12.4m).
The placing at 11p a share values Fastnet at €25m. The company has appointed Dr Stephen Staley, a non-executive director of Cove Energy, as chief executive and Cathal Friel, a co-founder of corporate advisors Raglan Capital, as non-executive chairman.
Fastnet, which has interests in Ireland and is looking at opportunities in Africa, will list on London's AIM market via a reverse takeover of Terra Energy.
It will also list on the Enterprise Securities Market of the Irish Stock Exchange in what is a rare boost from an indigenous float.
The listing brings together some of the shrewdest exploration investors in Ireland. Tommy O'Gorman, an early backer of Petroceltic and Cove Energy, is a significant shareholder; Michael Nolan, a Cove founder and director is on its board; and John Craven, the petroleum geologist who is CEO of Cove, is an adviser.
About 28 oil and gas institutional investors including multibillion funds Henderson Global Investors, CQS Asset Management and BlackRock Investment Management are all shareholders in the new venture. Raglan Capital owns about 12 per cent of the company on the behalf of Friel and private investors.
"We're hoping this will reignite the Irish exploration sector," O'Gorman said. "We're coming on the back of a great story at Cove Energy."
Fastnet has three Celtic Sea licence options applications pending and is also in talks over deals in Africa, where its backers have considerable experience.
"Given the providence of Tommy O'Gorman and the Cove guys in Africa, we can see deal flow," Friel said. "There is nothing definite in Africa yet but we are hopeful we will be able to make some announcements."
Fastnet is examing potential investments in East and North Africa where its board and advisers have considerable experience.
"We are listing in Ireland to give us access to Euro dominated funds," Friel said. It also suits the firm's Irish investors, he added, who have been staunch supporters of exploration in Ireland for decades.
"From an investor point of view, it is very exciting," said the Newry-based O'Gorman. "Fastnet has a very bright future."
Michael Edelson, the millionaire non-executive director of Manchester United -- a man known as the "Shellmeister", because he has backed so many cash shell companies -- is the forth member of Fastnet's board. Paul Griffiths, the founder and ex-chief executive of Island Oil & Gas is, like Craven, an adviser to the company.
Cove Energy, meanwhile, is currently the subject of an ongoing €1.5bn takeover battle because of its exciting interests in Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya. Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production and Royal Dutch Shell are among the bidders reporting to be circling it.
East Africa is expected to become one of the world's largest gas exporters to China after a string of major discoveries across Mozambique and Tanzania.
Cove has an 8.5 per cent stake in a massive gas find offshore of northern Mozambique as well as interests in Kenya.