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The Sunday Times: Prufrock: The Regal way to ruin a deal

November 25, 2007
Edited by Louise Armitstead
IT’S panto season and Prufrock’s favourite Widow Twanky is back.

Frank Timis, the thrice-convicted former chairman of Regal Petroleum, has returned to scupper the fortunes of the company he founded – again.

With Timis’s reputation as one of the most unpredictable and irregular of company directors, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that he effected a boardroom coup moments after Regal announced a miraculous deal with Shell. Obviously, Shell then ran a mile.

The thoughts of Regal’s major shareholders, besides Timis, are less clear. I’ve discovered that some of London’s most respected fund managers – including Henderson, Merrill Lynch and Capital – not only approved of Timis’s latest shenani-gans, but actively helped him. Last week, Regal’s management were celebrating the unexpected approach from Shell. As one insider said: “If I’d said 18 months ago that Regal would return to respectability enough to attract a $1 billion [£485m] deal from Shell, you’d have said ‘rubbish’.”

On Wednesday, a lawyer arrived at Regal’s offices and demanded the removal of top management by request of 50% of shareholders.

A five-hour board meeting concluded that the institutions were indeed backing Timis, and the directors had no choice. The chief executive and chairman were fired and replaced by Timis’s chum David Greer.

So now what? Regal’s credibility is shot and it will be a while before any sensible bidder looks at the company, which will struggle for cash to develop its assets. Explain please.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article2935809.ece

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