Tullow Oil’s new largest shareholder said he wanted the energy explorer to become a Pan-African champion and believed it could recover from its near 75 per cent share price collapse last week.
Samuel Dossou-Aworet, a Benin-born energy executive in his 70s, increased his stake in Tullow to 7 per cent, buying additional shares in the beleaguered oil and gas company days after its share price crash was triggered by a cut to its production outlook and the removal of its chief executive and head of exploration.
Mr Dossou-Aworet told the Financial Times his aim was to advise the company rather than dictate how it should shape its future as the board searches for new leadership. He said he had no immediate plans to further increase his stake in Tullow.
Tullow bought Mr Dossou-Aworet’s previous company 15 years ago and he was already a top 15 shareholder through Petrolin Trading, in which he held a controlling interest. He was also among a group of investors in Tullow whose shareholding was listed as “African Investors”.
“This is my baby,” Mr Dossou-Aworet said from his office in Geneva on Tuesday. “Even if it is not a first class company today I believe it can be. It is about people. A companyis about people and assets. And I am confident in the assets.”
The large share price drop has dramatically reordered Tullow’s largest shareholders inthe past week. Mr Dossou-Aworet has leapfrogged hedge fund RWC Partners, who briefly held the top spot after Standard Life Aberdeen and M&G InvestmentManagement sold down part of their holdings, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Tullow said Mr Dossou-Aworet had been an investor in the company for many years, dating back to its $500m acquisition in 2004 of Energy Africa, which had assets in countries including Uganda.
Mr Dossou-Aworet said it was a long-term investment and that he could have made far more by selling his original shares in Tullow when they traded at almost £14 a share in 2012, valuing the company at more than £14bn. On Tuesday the shares closed up at 63.42p, giving it a market capitalisation of £895m.
“This company for me is a big symbol. We should do what we have to do to make things work properly,” the investor said.