Events at troubled Sovereign Oilfield Group took a new twist yesterday, with the Aberdeen-based energy service firm announcing deputy chairman and co-founder Peter Felter had quit.
Sovereign said Mr Felter, who co-founded the business with executive chairman Graham Burgess in October 2003, and was chairman until November last year, had decided to step down from the board with immediate effect.
The reason given was that Mr Felter, 59, wanted to pursue other business interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Mr Burgess said: “Peter has played a critical role in the company’s development as it has grown organically and through acquisition.”
Sovereign said Mr Felter, a lawyer, remained a significant shareholder and was fully supportive of the firm’s board and strategy.
Yesterday’s move marked the latest boardroom change at Sovereign, which in March revealed that Robert Ellis – who took over as chairman from Mr Felter last autumn – had seen his contract as chairman and director terminated with immediate effect. At the time, Sovereign said Mr Ellis had gone as part of a restructuring of the board amid efforts to negotiate new banking arrangements.
Stuart Pearson took over as acting chairman, with Mr Burgess – the firm’s chief executive – becoming executive chairman earlier this month.
Mr Felter, who is listed at Companies House as also being on the board at Aberdeen firms OIL Engineering and Prodrill Engineering, Westhill-based Maxwell Downhole Technology and businesses in England and Belgium, could not be contacted yesterday.
He was previously a partner and head of energy at international law firm Clyde and Company.
Sovereign’s 2008 report – published yesterday – reveals that Mr Felter was the highest earning director last year on emoluments of £306,000, up from £258,000 in 2007.
Mr Burgess received a salary and pension package worth £262,000 last year, up from £228,000 in 2007 when there was an additional £20,000 bonus payment.
Meanwhile, trading of Sovereign’s shares is expected to resume on the alternative investment market this morning.
Deals were suspended in September because the firm was negotiating a restructuring of its debt and unable to publish its 2007-08 annual report and accounts within six months of its year-end.
Sovereign finally delivered its 2007-08 results on Friday, nearly eight months after the required deadline, showing losses of £1.9million. It also posted figures for the first half of its current financial year with further pre-tax losses of £3.2million in the six months to September 30.
Sovereign is now considering further disposals which, following deals unveiled last week and in March, would help to further reduce its multimillion-pound debts.