Cantillon: Murmurings of shareholder strife at Circle Oil
Some investors believe Limerick-based oil and gas explorer could be doing better
Thomas Anderson resigned as chairman at the company’s AGM in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Despite posting first-half profits of $14.7 million on the back of $42.5 million in revenues, some Circle Oil shareholders are not happy. The Limerick-based oil and gas explorer may be doing well, but some investors believe it could be doing better.
On the Interactive Investor (a UK-based financial services firm) discussion forum earlier this week, some posters said they felt chief executive Chris Green’s lack of shares in Circle Oil indicated a lack of confidence in the exploration company.
This issue was also raised at yesterday’s AGM, with one shareholder questioning why none of the directors, with the exception of Nick Clayton, had bought shares in the last two years. The company’s answer that, in two years, directors keen to buy shares had, with one notable exception, found no opportunity to do so that did not fall foul of their advisers, leaves one somewhat
The company which focuses its efforts on north Africa also seems to have run into problems progressing its business plan – with efforts to pursue projects in Tunisia held up by paperwork and the chairman Thomas Anderson (pictured) bemoaning the impact of the Arab Spring on Egypt where, he said, the ministries with which they must deal having changed three or four times recently.
Posters on the Circle Oil forum also stressed a desire for Anderson to be voted out and replaced.
Rumours of a coup circulated prior to yesterday’s AGM. Whether well-founded or not, Anderson pre-empted any such move by announcing his intention to stand down – despite the AGM’s agenda saying that he would be seeking re-election. His surprise move came before a vote had taken place.
Perhaps he felt he wouldn’t get re-elected had it gone to a vote, though he said the decision was down to him having a lot of things on his agenda. Circle Oil was, he said, a mere “speckle on his portfolio” and that he was unable to give it his full attention as a result. This portfolio includes numerous cinemas and other oil and gas companies of which he is a director. You can see why some shareholders might not have been overimpressed.