Timis orchestrates Regal boardroom coup

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The Independent Online

Frank Timis is back in control of Regal Petroleum, the AIM-listed oil explorer he founded 10 years ago. In a coup organised by the Romanian businessman, the chairman, chief executive and the exploration director of Regal all resigned yesterday and were replaced by Paul Morgan, a former Chevron manager.

The coup took place while the chairman, Sir Peter Heap, a former British Ambassador to Brazil, and Rex Gaisford, the chief executive, were on holiday. They resigned after Mr Timis threatened to call an extraordinary general meeting to remove them.

Mr Timis led Regal until last year when he was forced to resign after the failure of the company's Greek exploration programme. The businessman, who controls 19 per cent of Regal, criticised the old management's stewardship yesterday. He described their salaries - £90,000 a year for Sir Peter and £270,000 for Mr Gaisford - as "inflated" given the poor performance of the company and accused them of allowing excessive spending by senior executives.

According to Mr Timis, the cost of running Regal's London headquarters alone stood at £400,000 a month - a figure he viewed as too high relative to the company's £96m total worth. The Regal founder also alleged that the board had not yet told investors that Evolution Securities, its broker and nominated advisor, had decided to resign at the end of last month.

Mr Timis, who in the past three weeks has spent £10m on doubling the size of his shareholding in the group, said yesterday: "In the nine months since I was removed as chairman of Regal Petroleum, I have seen an inexorable decline in the fortunes of the company I founded and built up. I acted with speed because I knew there was not a moment to lose if we were to safeguard the company's assets in Ukraine." For the past six months, Regal has faced a legal battle in the Ukraine over control of a key gas asset.

Mr Morgan, who served as chief executive of Regal between 1998 and 2000, was appointed chairman and chief executive of the group at an emerging board meeting yesterday afternoon. The third director to depart Regal yesterday was Richard Hardman, the exploration director. Mr Gaisford and Sir Peter Heap could not be reached yesterday.