Capricorn Energy proposes Maria Gordon as chair

Maria Gordon

Edinburgh-based oil and gas firm Capricorn Energy announced that Craig van der Laan, its non-executive chair since February 2023, has decided not to stand for re-election and will cease to hold office as chairman and as a director at the conclusion of its 2024 AGM.

“From the conclusion of the AGM, Maria Gordon, non-executive director, will become the company’s non-executive chair (subject to re-election by shareholders),” said Capricorn Energy.

“Over the past ten years, following two decades in investment at Goldman Sachs and PIMCO, Maria has held numerous roles as a non-executive director, including experience as a chair leading both public and privately-held companies.”

The Capricorn Energy AGM will be held at The Cellar Room, Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, 38 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, at 11am on May 23, 2024.

Capricorn Energy, formerly called Cairn Energy, has experienced a tumultuous recent history, with two aborted merger deals and a revolt by shareholders that ousted the company’s former executive leadership.

Capricorn’s share price is down almost 80% for the past 12 months, reducing the company’s stock market valuation to around £150 million.

Van der Laan said: “In February last year, I was asked to take on the chair role at Capricorn at a time of considerable change and uncertainty about the future direction of the company.

“At that time, I outlined five areas of strategic focus, namely: capital returns, cost savings across the business, scaling back and exiting non-core operations, maximising value from Egypt and driving cultural change across the company.

I am proud that we have made huge strides in all these areas in the past twelve months.

“In particular, we have … recruited a completely new senior management team, including our CEO Randy Neely, who possesses deep experience of the Egyptian oil and gas sector … returned ~$568m in capital to shareholders … significantly reduced costs across the company and driven cultural change which has repositioned Capricorn as a lean, fit for purpose, cost-conscious organisation …”

Van der Laan added that Capricorn “exited or made significant progress in exiting all non-shareholder value-generating assets in Africa and Latin America … accelerated payments from the North Sea divestment on favourable terms while adding an encouraging new producing asset in the North Sea … repositioned the company in its relations with key stakeholders and partners in Egypt … and refocussed the company’s priorities on shareholder returns and shareholder value generation.

Having delivered on these objectives in the past 14 months, it is an appropriate time to hand over the reins, and for Maria to take Capricorn’s board forward for the next phase of its evolution.

“I have enjoyed my time as Capricorn’s chair immensely and leave the company in the capable hands of Maria and Randy.”

Gordon said: “I am honoured to have been proposed as the chair of Capricorn, to lead the board through the next stage of Capricorn’s journey.

“I have enjoyed working with Craig, who has led the board with a commitment to the highest standards of corporate governance during a time of positive and transformational change in the business, strongly focused on and aligned with our shareholders’ expectations.

“On behalf of the board and the executive team, I thank him for his dedication and leadership during the transformation of Capricorn and wish him well for the future.”

Capricorn CEO Neely said: “I am grateful for Craig’s support, guidance and advice throughout the past year. He leaves Capricorn having successfully overseen a major transformation, with the company in an excellent position to move forward and face the challenges ahead.

“I thank him for his focus and commitment and join the board in wishing him well in his future endeavours.”