Crown Ocean completes Bowleven clear-out

Crown Ocean co-founders Christian Petersmann, Konstantin Stoyanov and chief financial officer Torsten Weißmeier

Monaco-based activist shareholder Crown Ocean Capital (COC) has completed its boardroom clear-out at Edinburgh-based oil and gas firm Bowleven with the resignation of chairman Billy Allan and departures of chief executive Kevin Hart and chief financial officer Kerry Crawford.

Allan had survived the firm’s general meeting earlier this month when Crown Ocean — which controls about 22% of Bowleven’s shares — succeeded in having five directors including Hart and Crawford voted off the board.

Despite being removed from the board, Hart and Crawford had remained in their jobs at AIM-listed Bowleven.

On Thursday, however, Africa focused Bowleven announced that Allan resigned as a director with immediate effect to be replaced as chairman by COC nominee Christopher Ashworth.

“In addition, and further to recent press speculation, the board confirms that the employment contracts of both former executive directors Kevin Hart and Kerry Crawford have been terminated with effect from 31 March 2017, and both are no longer involved in the running of the company,” said Bowleven.

“The board continues to focus on carrying out its previously announced strategic review and a further announcement will be made regarding this in due course.”

Bowleven said last week it launched a strategic review of all its options including a sale or merger of the firm.

The firm said at that time: “The options to be considered during the strategic review may include, but are not limited to, a review of the strategy proposed by Crown Ocean Capital in its letter to Bowleven shareholders dated 15 February 2017, a farm-out or sale of one or more of the company’s existing assets or a corporate transaction such as a merger with or sale of the company to a third party.”

Enquiries about Bowleven are now being directed to chief operating officer David Clarkson.

At the general meeting, Crown Ocean succeeded in removing Hart, Crawford, John Martin, Tim Sullivan and Philip Tracy as directors and in having two of its nominees, Eli Chahin and Christopher Ashworth, appointed to the Bowleven board to drive the company in a new direction.

Then Crown Ocean requisitioned another general meeting to remove Allan as a director and appoint two “independent” directors Julien Balkany and Didier Lechartier.

Balkany is a partner of New York-based hedge fund Nanes Balkany Partners LLC, which targets investments in publicly traded oil and gas companies, and a brother of French politician Patrick Balkany.

Lechartier is a former executive at a number of oil and gas companies.

Bowleven describes itself as is an African focused oil and gas group, based in Edinburgh and traded on AIM.

Bowleven holds equity interests in two blocks in Cameroon, with one block located offshore in shallow water (operated by NewAge) and one onshore (operated by Bowleven).