Tap Oil stays mum as Singapore shareholder demands new directors
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Singaporean investor Risco Energy Investments is tightening its hold on Tap Oil, demanding it replaces three directors with two of its own creatures.
Risco, a 22.2 per cent shareholder in Tap (ASX:TAP), wants the chairman James Menzies out as well as director, and ERA chairman, Peter Mansell. Risco chief Tom Soulsby is also on the board — and wants out.
Instead, it wants alternate director Chris Newton on the board, as well as Govert van Ek — the Perth cryptocurrency boffin who founded Power Ledger and has a long track record in the oil sector (last seen at Sun Resources, ASX:SUR).
None of the companies was available for comment.
The Risco phone line is no longer in service. Power Ledger did not respond to queries. Mr Menzies now lives overseas, according to a Tap employee, while offsider Chris Bath was unavailable.
No reasons were given for Risco’s demands.
The only extra information Tap gave investors was that independent director Andrea Hall would step down if the Risco proposals succeed, which could mean Tap may not comply with the ASX’s two local directors rule.
Singapore-based Risco Energy Investments and Thailand’s Northern Gulf Petroleum strengthened their hold on the company last year, when the debt-riddled producer was forced to overhaul the business as it struggled with low oil prices.
At the time it fended off a board spill by Northern Gulf founder Chatchai Yenbamroong, but disagreements remained about reserves payments and cash calls for the Thai Manora oil venture.
Together, the two Asian investors own 45 per cent of Tap Oil.
Hartley’s Research energy analyst Aiden Bradley says the move was a surprise, as everything had seemed aligned until that point.
There was a new strategic focus on South East Asia and Mr Menzies was recently appointed in 2016 to the role and had considerable experience in the region, he said.
“Today would indicate there might be some differences of opinion,” he told Stockhead.
Tap Oil was debt free at the end of September after paying off the last $US3.4 million of a $15 million debt.
Production volumes and revenue dropped in the third quarter as Manora wells declined or were shut down for maintenance.