Antares Energy Ltd., the Australia-based oil and gas company with exploration interests in Texas, has been targeted by U.S. activist fund Lone Star Value Management for a board overhaul.
Founded by Jeffrey E. Eberwein, a former portfolio manager at Soros Fund Management, Lone Star has amassed 5.1 percent of Antares and is calling for an extraordinary shareholder meeting to garner votes for five additional board nominees, the fund said today in an e-mailed statement.
“Our director candidates have expertise in finance, petroleum engineering, geology, capital markets, and the law,” Eberwein said, without identifying the nominees. “We believe this expertise is needed on the Antares board to improve governance, create vision and enhance value for the benefit of all shareholders.”
Activist funds like Old Greenwich, Connecticut-based Lone Star acquire equity stakes in companies and seek to force management and directors to make changes that boost investor returns. Eberwein, a Texas native, has mounted activist campaigns at U.S.-based companies including Callon Petroleum Co., Endeavour International Corp., Miller Energy Resources Inc. and The Pantry Inc.
Antares “has not received any correspondence or communication from Lone Star Value Management in relation to their intentions and until such time as it does, it is unable to comment on the accuracy of the purported request,” the company said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange today.
Antares, based in Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is currently developing three projects in the Permian Basin of West Texas.
Antares Chief Executive Officer James Cruickshank withdrew in February from a deal to sell all its Permian assets for $300 million, saying the board had “concluded that the highest possible returns can be achieved for shareholders through the development” of the projects, rather than the agreed-upon sale.
Even after the deal was reached last year, the company refused to identify the would-be buyer, saying in regulatory filings “that disclosure of the counterparty is a commercially sensitive matter,” and “would jeopardise their ability to complete similar transactions and would also jeopardise this transaction.”
It described the mystery buyer only as “a strong presence in the Permian basin and is an ongoing acquirer of oil & gas properties through the negotiation of similar transactions.”
Lone Star expects to deliver necessary paperwork within a week and called for a shareholder meeting no later than July 20. In the meantime, the activist asked Antares’s incumbent board not to issue securities, buy or sell assets, add more directors or delay the extraordinary meeting.