Share slump doesn’t weigh heavy on Heavey

Aidan Heavey: ridiculously unflappable Tullow Oil boss.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Aidan Heavey: ridiculously unflappable Tullow Oil boss. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fri, May 2, 2014, 01:10

If you were the chief executive of a company whose share price had halved in two years, facing your retail shareholders at the annual general meeting would be a pain. Enduring it three times in a week is masochism.

Not that it bothered the ridiculously unflappable Tullow Oil boss Aidan Heavey, in town yesterday for the oil explorer’s Dublin annual meeting, following Wednesday’s AGM-proper in London. The group will hold another meeting next week in Ghana.

“It’s the only time of the year I like to wear a tie,” Heavey told me as he adorned his neck, before facing the crowd at the Royal College of Physicians.

Heavey has made plenty of money for Tullow’s shareholders so he is probably entitled to the soft ride he is getting from them on the share price after a decade-long bull-run.

Chatting in one of the college’s hallowed halls before things kicked off, he insisted the share price slump was typical of the sector over the last while, although Tullow did drill its fair share of dry holes last year.

“The last two years is the worst I have ever seen for the share prices of resource companies, and I’ve been around a long time,” said the FTSE 100’s longest-serving chief executive, at the helm since 1985.

“But we are now entering a new [upwards] cycle.”

Tullow is finalising the sell-off of smaller assets to focus on Africa.

He brushed off a question about the not-insignificant 9 per cent of shareholders who voted against the director’s remuneration report: Heavey was paid £2.75 million last year. Buttons really.

As for the perennial question about when Heavey might call it a day, he ducked that one too.

“We have a succession plan in place for all our senior executives, me included.

“The replacements will come from within.”

The football-mad boss still has a few goals left.

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