Gulf Keystone row intensifies over M&G board candidates

Baron Guthrie heads Gulf's nominations committee. Picture: AFP/Getty
Baron Guthrie heads Gulf's nominations committee. Picture: AFP/Getty
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A BOARDROOM row at oil driller Gulf Keystone Petroleum escalated at the weekend following talks held late on Friday evening between directors and investment manager M&G.

M&G, which holds a 5.1 per cent stake in Gulf, wants four “truly independent” non-­executive directors to be ­appointed to the board.

Gulf named Simon Murray, a former chairman of mining giant Glencore and an ex-French Foreign Legion soldier, as its chairman earlier this month.

The company split the role of chairman and chief executive in preparation to move from the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) to the FTSE 250 index on the main market. The firm is developing the Shaikan block, a major oil discovery in the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq.

Murray and Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank, a former chief of the defence staff and now chairman of Gulf’s nominations committee, met with M&G on Friday to discuss its four candidates – Jeremy Asher, John Bell, Philip Dimmock and Thomas Shull.

Gulf has interviewed Bell, Dimmock and Shull, but not Asher. On Saturday it advised shareholders to reject all four of M&G’s candidates.

Gulf said: “The M&G candidates do not have the consistent track record of successful operational and commercial experience, in any sector, that is required for a FTSE 250-sized company, or the knowledge base and track record of oil and gas expertise, experience and achievement required to contribute to the board of a successful major oil and gas company in Kurdistan.”

M&G said: “We reaffirm our intention to vote for the four independent candidates we have nominated, believing them to have the relevant experience and knowledge to represent the interests of all shareholders.”