Crown Ocean Capital, the rebel investor that this week succeeded in ousting five directors at oil and gas explorer Bowleven, is gunning again for its chairman.
Billy Allan, who has been in the post since the end of 2015, narrowly escaped the purge at the Edinburgh-based firm, which saw chief executive Kevin Hart ousted from the board along with finance director Kerry Crawford and non-executives John Martin, Tim Sullivan and Philip Tracy.
But Crown Ocean, headed by Christian Petersmann and Konstantin Stoyanov, said that Allan, the former boss of oil services group Asco, “is reluctant to accept the verdict of shareholders over the future strategy of Bowleven or to recognise that it is no longer appropriate for current executives to continue to hold their pre-existing executive roles”.
It has called on him “to step down as a director and chairman now to avoid further unnecessary waste of Bowleven’s resources”.
The Monaco-based private investor, which has built up a 22 per cent stake in Aim-quoted Bowleven and is seeking to convert the Africa-focused business into a holding company after lambasting its strategy and track record of “significant shareholder value destruction”, has requisitioned another general meeting to remove Allan and appoint two of its nominees as independent directors – financier Julien Balkany and “seasoned” oil and gas industry veteran Didier Lechartier.
Balkany is co-founder and managing partner of Nanes Balkany Partners, a New York-headquartered group of funds that mainly invests in publicly traded energy companies.
Lechartier has more than 25 years’ experience in the sector and until July 2016 served as managing director for Egypt, Bulgaria and Italy at Petroceltic, the Irish oil explorer and producer that bought Edinburgh-based Melrose Resources in 2012.
In its requisition notice, Crown Ocean said: “We now see a significant danger posed by either a dysfunctional board or one controlled by Mr Allan who could use his casting vote to maintain the status quo and protect his and the old leadership’s entrenched positions.
“We note that Kevin Hart still acts as chief executive of the company and the other removed executive board member Kerry Crawford remains a Bowleven employee without termination notices having been served. We understand that Mr Allan has no intention to change this. We also want to remind shareholders that Mr Allan does not own a single share in Bowleven as of 31 December 2016.”
Allan, a former board member at Partick Thistle FC, this month launched Aliter Capital, a £92 million fund to invest in small and medium-sized support services companies.
The move came as Aliter, which is based in Glasgow and London, also announced that it had completed its first equity investment in Edwin James Holdings, a Glasgow engineering business, for an undisclosed sum.