Three bosses at Cove in line for a windfall

A TRIO of top executives at Cove Energy are in line to share a pot of tens of millions of dollars after the company was officially put up for sale yesterday.

Chief executive John Craven and executive chairman Michael Blaha will share most of the payout.

Michael Nolan, Cove’s finance director, will pocket the rest. The price tag on the company is estimated at up to $1bn (£645.2m).

If all their options are exercised, the management will own five per cent of the company.

BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil are being tipped by analysts to take an interest in the Aim-listed explorer, which operates in East Africa.

The jewel in Cove’s crown is its 8.5 per cent interest in the Rovuma Area 1 block off the shore of Mozambique, part of a project led by Anadarko Petroleum. Cove also has assets off the shores of Kenya and Tanzania, although these are less developed.

The company said in December it had offered data to parties who had expressed an interest in acquiring its 8.5 per cent stake in the Rovuma block.

“Rovuma Area 1 represents a substantial portion of Cove’s asset value within the portfolio of focussed and complementary assets which the company has built in East Africa,” Cove said in a statement. “As such the directors have unanimously agreed that a sale of the company may be appropriate at this time.”

ADVISER: CENKOS SECURITIES

JOE NALLY: SENIOR MANAGER NATURAL RESOURCES

CENKOS resources expert Joe Nally is the leading adviser on the Cove sale.

The London School of Economics-educated executive joined Williams de Broe in 1976 as an investment analyst covering property and insurance companies.

He went on to become an institutional salesman, covering a wide range of institutions in the UK and Europe. In 1992 he was a founder of the institutional corporate finance department at Williams de Broe where he gained extensive experience across a broad range of sectors in IPOs, secondary fund raising and takeovers and mergers, particularly in natural resources.

Over the past five years, he has brought a considerable number of mining and oil and gas companies to the market and raised further funds in the secondary market. In November 2010 Cove raised £110m via a placing of 145m new shares at 76p each, with Nally the lead adviser.

His biggest deal to date has been Walter Energy’s C$3.3bn (£2bn) merger with Canadian mining group Western Coal. He has advised Cove on a number of successful placings and is a well known City veteran with a strong track record.