Cairn Energy loses its deputy chief and its finance director

Suzie Neuwirth
SCOTTISH oil and gas explorer Cairn Energy yesterday said its deputy chief executive and its chief financial officer are stepping down for “long term succession planning reasons”, merely weeks after founder Sir Bill Gammell said he would retire as chairman.

Deputy chief Mike Watts and finance director Jann Brown will not seek re-election at the annual meeting on 15 May, but will dedicate their remaining time at the FTSE 250 company to resolving long-running tax issues in India.

Former Rothschild investment banker James Smith will take over as finance director.

“Mike Watts is highly regarded and it seems beyond belief that at this delicate stage in the company’s current process that he and Jann should go so quickly,” said Malcolm Graham-Wood, oil and gas analyst.

Energy services firm John Wood Group yesterday announced that Brown will join as a non-executive director on 15 May.

The management overhaul is the latest blow to Cairn, which has been struggling with the Indian tax dispute and a lack of recent exploration success.

Its share price fell 1.4 per cent.