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Kozel steps down as Chairman

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In a long awaited, but surprise, move Todd Kozel relinquishes his dual role as Chairman of Gulf Keystone Petroleum but retains his position of CEO (see link below).

Debate has raged for months if not years about the validity of this dual role in light of corporate governance concerns but, for me, this move has been long overdue even if it's something of a surprise that it's come before the judgement on the Excalibur court case.

However, it does raise an interesting question or two:

Is this what would be expected if there was an imminent takeover in the pipeline? In my opinion that's not likely for obvious reasons, not least of which is why would Gulf Keystone pursue an official listing on the Main Market if they're not going to be around for much longer? Perhaps this is simply maneuvering but it could be costly and suggests to me that there's more field development work at Shaikan for GKP to do before the Majors and NOCs get their wallets out.  

Why has he chosen to do this prior to the court ruling? There's no doubt that Kozel has been under considerable pressure since the collapse of the share price in the last 16 months or so and that undoubtedly (in my opinion) included some pressure from institutional investors, but would it not have made more sense to step down as Chairman AFTER the court ruling? That said, in typical Gulf Keystone style, the statement in today's RNS is somewhat lacking in detail. When will this occur? Why announce the intention without having found a successor? (In my opinion this latter suggests that the move is purely due to shareholder pressure and the impending AGM).

Certainly, Kozel's own statement:
"AIM has served Gulf Keystone well, however, for some time we have been of a size where we would be better suited to the Main Market.  Consequently the splitting of my role as CEO with that of an Independent Non-Executive Chairman further signals Gulf Keystone's continuing commitment to high standards of corporate governance in preparation for our previously announced proposed move to the Official List.

"We look forward to keeping shareholders posted on our proposed Board changes and welcoming a new Chairman over the coming months."

doesn't fill one with the impression he's overly excited about this prospect. That's no surprise in itself of course since he still appears to think that Gulf Keystone Petroleum, rather than being a listed company, is his own "baby". Any parent will know that it's unhealthy to keep a child too closely under your wing and that's the case here and why I view this as a positive, if reluctant, move.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out on the charts and I'll update the blog after today's close.
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Guest Friday, 20 May 2022