Tory donor Spencer to buy another chunk of Cluff

Michael Spencer
Michael Spencer

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Spencer will further increase his stake in North Sea oil firm Cluff Natural Resources (CLNR).

Mr Spencer, a multi-millionaire backer of the Conservative Party, has struck a deal to purchase 10.6 million shares from Algy Cluff, CLNR’s chairman, for 3.5p each.

CLNR’s board said today that it was issuing those shares to Mr Cluff after the North Sea pioneer exercised an option.

Mr Cluff’s shareholding will remain unchanged at 13m once the sale to Mr Spencer goes through.

Mr Spencer, once dubbed the city’s richest man, bought the shares through an investment company he controls, IPGL.

In July, he increased his stake in CLNR to 54.4m shares, giving him ownership of 10.1% of the company.

The latest acquisition will take him to about 12%.

CLNR received a huge boost last week when it farmed out one of its southern North Sea licences to Shell, after months of searching for a partner.

The firm turned its attention to North Sea exploration and production after its plans to pioneer underground coal gasification technology, initially in the Firth of Forth, were thwarted by the Scottish Government.

Mr Spencer previously founded interdealer broker Icap, which in 2010 issued a shock profits warning just weeks after he sold a large stake for £45 million.

Icap, which was fined in both the UK and US for its part in the global Libor interest rate scandal, became fintech company Nex Group in late 2016 after part of the business was sold to global banking firm Tullett Prebon.

Mr Spencer was chief executive of Nex Group, which was acquired by US exchanges giant CME Group for £3.9 billion in November.

Mr Spencer is chairman of the Conservative Foundation, a charity launched in 2009 to raise money for the Tories.

He was Conservative Party treasurer from 2006 to 2010, helping to turn a funding deficit into a surplus, and has pumped millions of pounds into the party both personally and through his businesses.

Close friend and former prime minister David Cameron recommended him for a peerage but the move was reportedly scuppered by the Libor scandal.

Mr Spencer, EY’s world entrepreneur of the year in 2010, has helped raise tens of millions of pounds for charity alongside leading royals and is also an avid art collector, with work by Scottish artist Jack Vettriano among the items he owns.