A rebel Russian shareholder swept aside the board of the struggling oil explorer JKX Oil & Gas in a move labelled by opponents as a “successful act of piracy”.
The Moscow-based fund Proxima, which owns 20 per cent of the Russia and Ukraine-focused JKX, launched its campaign in December, complaining of mismanagement after a 90 per cent fall in the shares over the previous five years.
But its assault has been controversial and dogged by claims – denied by all parties – that it was working in concert with two other big investors. Eclairs, controlled by Ukrainian raiders Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov, and Glengary, controlled by the Russian oligarch Alexander Zhukov, together own 38 per cent of JKX.
At an extraordinary meeting, Proxima succeeded in removing chief executive Paul Davies and six other directors, although two – the finance director Cynthia Dubin and non-executive Dipesh Shah – resigned hours before the vote. In their place come energy veteran Tom Reed as chief executive, a new finance chief and chairman, and two representatives of Proxima, including founder Vladimir Tatarchuk.
JKX had tried to bar Eclairs and Glengary from voting at the meeting earlier this week on suspicion of providing “false or materially incorrect” information. The High Court overturned the decision, but the activist won by a two-to-one majority even without their votes, due to the support of Turkish investor Neptune – which has the same offices in Moscow as Proxima.
One source on the JKX side said big shareholders had won control without paying a premium, at the expense of retail investors, who own more than 20 per cent of JKX. “This was a successful act of piracy which no rightminded director would go along with.”
Mr Tatarchuk said: “We are delighted that all our resolutions were passed... without having to rely on the votes of shareholders that are subject to legal dispute.”
JKX shares fell by 2 per cent to 25.75p.
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