Thursday 14 December 2017

Worldview intensifies assault on Petroceltic

Petroceltic chief executive Brian O’Cathain
Petroceltic chief executive Brian O’Cathain
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

An activist investor in Irish oil and gas exploration firm Petroceltic wants the firm's directors to personally foot the bill for a planned extraordinary general meeting as the pair wage a bitter battle that has dogged the Dublin company for more than two years.

Switzerland-based Worldview, which controls over 29pc of Petroceltic, has tried to requisition the EGM despite the Irish company holding such a meeting yesterday.

Worldview, headed by chief executive Angelo Moskov, claimed that the EGM held yesterday by Petroceltic was "self-serving", "misleading and futile".

It alleged that the Petroceltic meeting failed to include two resolutions proposed by Worldview, and that it had voted against all the resolutions proposed, meaning none of them could be passed.

Worldview claimed that the EGM did not "discharge the board's statutory obligation to call the EGM requisitioned by Worldview" and wants the October EGM it has now called for to be paid for out of the pockets of Petroceltic directors. Petroceltic's chief executive is Brian O'Cathain.

"Worldview intends to take all legal steps to ensure that its reasonable expenses are repaid and withheld from the fees and remuneration of the board so that shareholders do not incur this needless additional expense," it said.

Petroceltic refused to call a previous EGM, called for by Worldview in July. The Irish company claimed again yesterday that Worldview is trying to wrest control of Petroceltic for less than its fair value. It insisted that the fact Worldview has said it will not support any further financings by Petroceltic until the board resigns "demonstrates its desire to gain control of the company without paying fair value, which is to the detriment of the majority of shareholders".

Last month, Petroceltic suspended plans to raise as much as $175m via a bond issue, due to volatile market conditions.

Worldview claimed yesterday that plans for the bond are "hugely perilous". It alleged that such the bond would pledge Petroceltic's "crown jewel" - its participation in the Ain Tsila gas field in Algeria - as security. It wants shareholders at the October EGM to be able to vote on the bond and Petroceltic's borrowing powers.

Last month, the High Court directed the owner of a blogging service to identify the author of allegedly defamatory content published about Petroceltic, Mr O'Cathain and its chief financial officer, Tom Hickey. The High Court also ordered that the "blatantly untrue" content of the relevant blog be deleted.

"The blogger has yet to comply with this court order," said Petroceltic. The matter is due before the court today.

Petroceltic said another website is now making allegations about its activities in Bulgaria. "Petroceltic will take all steps necessary to protect its good name and that of its staff," it warned.

Irish Independent

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