Gulf Keystone faces fresh shareholder rebellion over top bosses


ore shenanigans at Gulf Keystone Petroleum, the former stock market darling now facing an increasingly embittered shareholder base.

On Friday, as the nation prepared to do football battle with Scotland, GKP stuck out the results of an AGM showing a strong shareholder rebellion against chairman Jaap Huijskes and finance director Ian Weatherdon. More than 30% of shareholders think they should go, the issue being the cost base of the business and staff costs, including the pay to the top brass, say City whisperers.

A rocky AGM a year ago saw a similar protest vote against Huijskes, who clung on, and one against CEO Jon Ferrier, who left soon after.

The stock was down 13p, 6%, today to 193p which leaves the business valued at £412 million. For context, the company shares were 4000p six years ago when its Kurdistan oil exploration was catching the eye of the City and London cabbies alike.

New-ish CEO Jon Harris has the backing of investors, for now, but it is unclear how long Huijskes and Weatherdon will stick around.

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Perhaps long enough to clear up the latest row, some in the City suggest.

Someone close to the company did note that there was a low investor turnout, so the rebellion may be less serious than it seems at first glance. The story has longer to run.

The wider market is wobbling about inflation, ahead of a key Bank of England meeting this week, with many City economists wanting it to give a firmer clue to when interest rates will start rising.

The FTSE 100 lost 11 points to 7006, the biggest fallers being miner Rio Tinto, off 138p at 5671p, BT, down 3p at 197p, and Rolls Royce, off 2p at 106p.

Frasers, the holding group behind Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct empire, today began a £60 million share buyback programme first mooted a month ago.

It has asked Liberum Capital to do the deal, which should boost shareholder value. Today the stock drifted down 7p to 570p, but it has had a stirring run, up more than 70% in the past year.

All the big supermarket shares were up smartly today on the private equity bid for Morrisons, which rocketed 30%.

Ocado the second top punt, gained 86p to 1967p.