Petroceltic chief criticises rules allowing Worldview secrecy
Worldview not having to disclose ultimate owners ‘unfair’ for investors – Brian O’Cathain
Petroceltic chief executive Brian O’Cathain: “There ought to be a way to protect shareholders from assets being expropriated like this.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Brian O’Cathain, the chief executive of Petroceltic International, has criticised the provisions of company law that have allowed dissident shareholder Worldview Capital to engineer a takeover without disclosing its ultimate owners.
Worldview has agreed a full takeover of Petroceltic with examiner Michael McAteer after a year-and-a-half-long battle with management over strategy.
Mr O’Cathain said it was “unfair” for investors, who stand to lose the benefit of Petroceltic’s prime Algerian gas asset.
Offshore companiesSunday Telegraph
“In the same way that David Cameron is calling for people to publish who owns all this property in London, we should know who is behind these funds. We have never been able to understand who is behind Worldview. That in itself is a flaw in company law because it’s not right [if] companies are obliged to disclose everything they do [but funds aren’t].
“There is no transparency whatsoever about who is behind these activist funds, about whose interest they are acting in and where the money comes from. It’s totally hidden behind a web of offshore companies.”
Worldview tried on several occasions to oust Mr O’Cathain and other members of the board before closing off access to an equity fundraising for Petroceltic. As the company was excluded from debt markets due to the sector falling out of favour, Petroceltic was forced into examinership when it could no longer meet its debt repayments.
Analysts say its assets are worth up to $1 billion (€885 million), but Worldview has effectively acquired them for less than a third of that.