Massive pressure combined with intense heat long ago to form diamonds from carbon found far beneath the Earth’s crust. Subsequent volcanic activity has forced them close to the surface, where lucky diamond miners sometimes find them and the shiny carbon crystals end up as jewellery.
Prof Richard Conroy, chairman of Irish company Karelian Diamond Resources, is facing some pressure and heat of his own. However, it is happening out in the open rather than deep underground.
Shareholders Alan Osborne, Richie Taberner, Steve Coomber and Kevin Taylor are seeking an extraordinary general meeting (egm) to remove Prof Conroy, his daughter Sorca Conroy, Maureen Jones, Séamus FitzPatrick and Louis J Maguire from the board. Osborne, Taylor, diamond-mining expert Stephen Grimmer and Martin Doyle would replace those directors.
The disgruntled investors, who own 17 per cent of Karelian, claim that of the £7.9 million (€8.9 million) the company has raised, it has spent £4.1 million on directors’ pay. Not so, says Prof Conroy, who maintains that directors have in fact contributed £2 million in cash to the company and mainly taken shares in lieu of their salaries.
He also argues that Karelian has made good progress in Finland, where it operates, acquiring a diamond deposit in one location and a Kimberlite pipe – a key indicator of the precious stones' existence – in another.
The Karelian rebels’ next step is an egm, where they will seek fellow shareholders’ support for the board shake-up. Meanwhile, Conroy intends addressing their allegations more fully.
To some extent, Conroy has been here before. In 2017, a shareholder sought to replace some of the board of another of the professor’s companies, Conroy Gold. That ended in court with the company emerging victorious. So at least heat and pressure from shareholders is nothing new for him.