Nigerian Oil Firm Lekoil Fights Top Shareholder over Board

LAGOSJOHANNESBURG, Jan 8 Reuters Londonlisted Nigerian oil company Lekoils shareholders will vote on Friday on an investors bid to add three members to the companys board, in the culmination of a bitter dispute between its founder and its biggest shareholder.

The dispute even drew in Nigerias Ministry of Petroleum, and is more unwanted public turmoil for a company that last year was caught out by a loan that turned out to be fraudulent.

Metallon, a private investment company that owns four gold mines in Zimbabwe, became a shareholder of Lekoil last March and now has a 15.1 stake, making it the top investor.

It is asking shareholders to appoint three additional members to Lekoils fourmember board, saying the move would improve corporate governance and increase scrutiny of Lekoils finances.

We believe Lekoils assets, specifically Otakikpo, are being substantially undervalued by the market and that the value of these assets could be realised if the proposed changes are made to the Lekoil board, Metallon said in a letter to shareholders, published on Metallons website on Dec. 11.

Lekoil founder and chief executive Lekan Akinyanmi is fighting the change, and questioned Metallons true aim.

The moment they have control of the board… and they appoint the chairman, they are in a very strong position to make a takeover attempt, Akinyanmi told Reuters.

Complicating matters is a Dec. 30 letter from Nigerias Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to Lekoil…

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