Hurricane Energy Plc’s private equity shareholder seeks to replace the board amidst company sales process

Hurricane Energy PLC’s (LSE:HUR) major shareholder Cystal Amber Fund Limited has sent a requisition notice for a general meeting in which it seeks to remove certain directors and appoint two new directors.

Private equity investor Crystal Amber wants the company to hire Tony Buckingham and Franco Castelli which run Albion Energy Limited, which has been in consultation with the fund over the potential value within Hurricane’s acreage.

It comes as Hurricane has been working through formal sales process, launched in November, which has been ongoing – with Hurricane on 18 November telling investors it had received multiple expressions of interest from several counterparties.

Hurricane last month also said it intended to return capital to shareholders in the event that a transaction does not proceed.

It also, in a statement at the same time, noted that Crystal Amber had indicated to the Hurricane board its desire to monetise the value of its shareholding.

Crystal Amber’s requisition today calls for the removal of Hurricane executive directors Antony Maris and Richard Chaffe along with non-executive chair Philip Wolfe.

In its statement, Crystal Amber said: “The fund has concluded that in the continuing absence of a firm offer that reflects the value of Hurricane, it would be better served under new management that has a track record of delivering for shareholders.

“The fund has also been informed by Albion Energy Limited that it is of the view that there remains substantial potential within Hurricane’s acreage and that under the right leadership, Hurricane could attract significant new investment to fund growth opportunities.”

Crystal Amber noted that it anticipates Albion could be issued share options in Hurricane as part of the remuneration packages for Buckingham and Castelli, if they were to be appointed, which would represent 100mln news shares equating to 5% of the company, plus the fund said it would support a further issue of options to Albion for a further 200mln shares. These options would be tied to conditions that Hurricane raised some £250mln for new drill programmes.

Hurricane has yet to respond to the Crystal Amber statement.

Crystal Amber holds a 28.9% stake in Hurricane (575.6mln shares) whilst another private equity fund, Kerogen Investments No.18 Limited, holds 15.99% (318.5mln shares).

Tony Buckingham founded Heritage Oil which discovered over 2bn barrels of oil and was acquired in 2014 for US$1.6bn by a private investment vehicle of Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani and his family. At the time of the sale Buckingham was required to retain a 20% holding in Heritage for a five year period.

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