LekOil Appoints Ajukwu After Fallout With Major Investor

Michael Ajukwu

By Adedapo Adesanya

Lekoil Limited, the oil and gas exploration and production company with a focus on Nigeria and West Africa, has announced the appointment of Mr Michael Ajukwu as chairman with immediate effect.

The appointment of Mr Ajukwu as the board chairman followed the resignation of Mr Mark Simmonds from the board.

A finance graduate of the University of Lagos, Mr Ajukwu also studied at the New York University, where he obtained an MBA in Accounting and Finance.

He served on the board of the defunct Bank PHB. In July 2018, he was appointed to the board of Sterling Bank Plc as an independent director. He is also on the board of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc as an independent non-executive director.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Ajukwu said, “I am honoured to assume the position of Chairman of Lekoil and would like to thank my predecessor, Mark Simmonds, for his contributions to the company.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board and the management of Lekoil to deliver a high performing company anchored on strong governance structures that produces value for all shareholders.”

Last week, shareholders voted on Friday to approve an investor’s bid to add three members to the company’s board, in the culmination of a bitter dispute between its founder and its biggest shareholder.

The dispute between Lekoil founder and chief executive, Mr Lekan Akinyanmi, and a top shareholder, Metallon, even drew in Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum and created more unwanted public turmoil for the company, which was caught out by a fraudulent loan last year.

A large majority of shareholders approved Metallon’s proposal to appoint Metallon CEO, Mr Thomas Richardson, along with two others to the Lekoil board, expanding it to seven members.

Outgoing chairman, Mr Mark Simmonds, said he would stand down with immediate effect and the newly enlarged board will appoint his replacement.

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 per cent stake, making it the top investor.

It says its proposal to expand the board will improve corporate governance and increase scrutiny of Lekoil’s finances.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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