Petroceltic announces changes to board after failed coup

Explorer unveils changes in wake of showdown with Worldview

Oil explorer Petroceltic has announced a number of changes to its board following last month’s failed coup by dissident shareholder Worldview.

The Swiss hedge fund had tried to oust chief executive Brian O’Cathain and appoint two of its own nominees to the board at a shareholders’ meeting in Dublin.

Shareholders, however, blocked the move, voting to retain Mr O'Cathain and to appoint two nominees by Petroceltic's board, Nicholas Gay and Neeve Billis.

In a statement today, Petroceltic confirmed the appointment of Mr Billis and Mr Gay and the exit of Worldview's former nominees Joe Mach and Don Wolcott as non-executive directors.


The company also announced further changes to the board and its committees, including Mr Billis’s addition to the audit, nominations and remuneration committees and Mr Gay’s appointment as chairman of the audit committee.

In addition, Tom Hickey, the company's chief financial officer, has been re-appointed to the board, while David Thomas, the company's chief operating officer, has indicated his intention to leave the company next month for personal reasons.

Worldview, which maintains a 28 per cent stake in Petroceltic, has been at loggerheads with management over allegations that Petroceltic breached a shareholders’ agreement struck last year, which the company denies. .

Last month’s showdown appears to have drawn a line under hostilities for now.

Meanwhile, there has been renewed speculation in recent weeks that Dragon Oil, which aborted discussions with Petroceltic in December over a possible £500 million takeover bid, may come back with another bid. Such a bid would require Worldview's backing.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times