Activist Crown Ocean ousts most of Bowleven board

Kevin Hart

Monaco-based activist shareholder Crown Ocean Capital (COC) has been successful in ousting most of the board at Edinburgh-based Bowleven, the Africa focused oil and gas exploration company, including chief executive Kevin Hart.

At a general meeting of the firm requisitioned by Crown Ocean Capital to vote on removing the directors, the activist was also successful in having two of its nominees, Eli Chahin and Christopher Ashworth, appointed to the Bowleven board to drive the company in a new direction.

Crown Ocean, which controls about 22% of Bowleven shares, succeeded in removing Kevin Hart, Kerry Crawford, John Martin, Tim Sullivan and Philip Tracy as directors.

Bowleven shares fell more than 4% to around 33p, giving it a stock market value of around £106 million.

Crown Ocean Capital said in a stock exchange statement: “Crown Ocean would like to thank fellow shareholders for the support they have shown for change in leadership and direction at the company.

“Shareholders have provided the new board with a clear mandate to implement a new strategy as outlined in Crown Ocean’s open letter to Bowleven shareholders of 15 February 2017.”

Bowleven said said in a stock exchange statement: “Excluding the votes cast in respect of the shares held by COC and its nominees (COC Shares), all resolutions proposed at the general meeting would have been defeated by a significant margin …

“All major institutional shareholders remaining on the register of members of the company after posting of the circular voted against all of the resolutions.

“The only exception to this was a single institutional shareholder that voted in favour of resolution 8 (to mevove Tracy), consistent with the PIRC proxy guidance for the general meeting.

As a consequence of the business conducted at the general meeting, Kevin Hart, Kerry Crawford, John Martin, Tim Sullivan and Philip Tracy ceased office as directors with immediate effect.   

“David Clarkson and Billy Allan will continue as directors, with the former continuing to be employed as chief operating officer of the company and the latter remaining as chairman.”