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M&G demands crisis talks with Gulf's Murray

The M&G Recovery Fund, which owns 5.1 per cent of Gulf Keystone Petroleum, has demanded a meeting with new chairman Simon Murray to discuss its "concerns about corporate governance" at the oil firm.

The £7.4bn fund revealed yesterday that it has met in recent weeks with two of Gulf Keystone's non-executive directors over the issue. In a statement M&G said it "wishes to highlight to other shareholders its continuing concerns regarding the standards of corporate governance at the company".

It added that "the separation of the roles of chairman and chief executive is a step in the right direction but there remains much room for improvement".

Simon Murray is a 73-year old former French legionnaire and chairman of Glencore who was appointed to Gulf last week. It was an attempt to head off growing shareholder discontent ahead of this month's annual meeting in Bermuda. Former chairman Todd Kozel remains as chief excutive.

Yesterday M&G criticised the "excessive" current level of directors' remuneration. "We note the payment to the chief executive of $13.6m, plus $9.1m deferred cash, in respect of 2012 when the company declared a loss before tax of $80m", it said.

It has voted against the re-election of two existing directors and in favour of four independent candidates. M&G criticised Gulf Keystone for failing to circulate to all shareholders full details of the proposed directors.