ICM’s Duncan Saville seeks spot on NZOG board

Duncan Saville, whose ICM unit manages ASX-listed Zeta Resources, is seeking a seat on the board of New Zealand Oil & Gas, and has the blessing of the oil explorer’s current directors.

NZOG shareholders will vote on whether to add Saville to the board on Nov. 4 at their annual meeting in Wellington, according to the firm’s notice of meeting. Zeta is the biggest shareholder of NZOG with a 16.6 percent stake, and ICM is also the investment adviser to Bermuda Commercial Bank which owns a 1.7 percent indirect interest in the oil and gas explorer. Zeta also holds a 15.6 percent stake in Pan Pacific Petroleum, a firm in which NZOG also owns a 15 percent share.

Saville’s involvement in NZOG began in 2012 when Utilico Investments, which is also managed by ICM and holds a stake in Zeta, emerged as a substantial shareholder. Over the same period, Utilico has been winding back its stake in listed infrastructure investor Infratil, of which Saville is a director.

Earlier this month, Utilico said its NZOG investment had several failures and one success in a busy year of exploration, and had lifted its stake in the Tui oil field “for what we believe was a good price for the purchaser.”

Last month, NZOG reported a 61 percent slump in annual earnings as exploration costs spiked and the firm faced foreign exchange losses on its US dollar holdings. Earlier this year the company said it had found no significant gas or oil shows in its Matuku well near Taranaki.

Separately, NZOG said it has returned the petroleum exploration permit 53473 ‘Takapou’ off the Taranaki coast to the Crown after deciding not to commit to drilling a well, which would have been required by March 2016. NZOG acquired 50 percent of the permit and became operator in 2012, with Octanex holding the other half share.

“New Zealand Oil & Gas continues to believe there is prospectivity in the Takapou permit, but the market perceived the prospects as partially dependent on the outcome of the Oi well earlier this year,” the company said in a statement. “In the absence of a smaller financial interest in the permit, the company believes a drill commitment would not fit the balance of risk and reward it seeks in its New Zealand portfolio.”

Shares of NZOG were unchanged at 76 cents, and have declined 5.6 percent this year.

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