Premier Oil Jumps in London After CEO Lockett Steps Down

Premier Oil Plc rose the most in two years in London after Simon Lockett said he would step down after nine years as chief executive officer.

Lockett’s decision to quit follows investor discontent about the company’s performance, Deutsche Bank AG said in a note to investors. Premier said last month oil production in 2014 would miss a target after disruptions to fields in the U.K. North Sea and Vietnam.

“I just went through the 20-year mark in Premier,” Lockett said in a phone interview. “It’s a personal decision. I’ve done a good job building the business to where it is today. I move on and give someone else a chance.”

Premier shares rose 8.6 percent to 291.1 pence, making it the second best performer in the U.K.’s FTSE-250 index. It was the biggest gain since Sept. 27, 2011.

“By stepping down now, Premier has potentially avoided a repeat of last year’s AGM where registered votes against key resolutions suggest a lack of investor support,” Lucas Hermann, a Deutsche Bank analyst, said in today’s note.

Premier said Lockett will stay on while the board seeks a replacement and would act as an adviser to the company’s directors while they seek a new CEO.

“Hopefully there will be a smooth transition,” the executive said. He declined to comment on any potential candidate, saying the company directors will conduct the search.

Lockett joined Premier in 1994 from Royal Dutch Shell Plc, according to the company website. He holds about 0.53 percent of the company, worth about 8.1 million pounds ($13.2 million), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

He plans to stay in England for the present.

“I am too much of a city boy,” he said. “I’ve certainly got no plans to move out of London.”

Premier will have an investor presentation on Feb. 6 in London.

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