Investors oust chairman in coup at Bowland fracking outfit Dart

City A.M. Reporter
SHAREHOLDERS in UK shale developer Dart Energy have backed a boardroom coup, voting out the chairman and his allies despite his warning that the move was an attempt to acquire the company on the cheap.

New Hope Coal, leader of the coup, cited years of poor performance.

The move comes amid intense investor scrutiny of Britain’s shale oil and gas drilling scene. Britain is seen as a European test bed for the controversial extraction practice of fracking, and firms endured a drilling freeze in 2011 after tremors in Blackpool.

The ousting of chairman Nicholas Davies and his allies also comes while Dart, listed in Australia and one of a handful of bets on a successful UK shale industry, aims to close a cooperation deal with GDF-Suez under which the French utility would provide cash and funding.

GDF Suez plans to pay Dart Energy $12m in cash upfront and fund $27m in exploration and appraisal costs in exchange for a 25 per cent share of 13 UK onshore licences in the Bowland shale across north west and central England.

A statement announcing Davies’ resignation and his replacement by Robert Neale, the managing director of 16 per cent shareholder New Hope Coal, made no reference to the future of the GDF deal.