West Face Seeks Gran Tierra CEO Ouster, Urging Focus on Colombia

West Face Capital Inc. is urging Gran Tierra Energy Inc. to replace its chief executive officer and focus on core Colombian properties after exploration failures in other South American countries.

West Face, which holds 9.8 percent of Gran Tierra, is asking for former Caracal Energy head Gary Guidry to be named CEO and member of the board, along with five other nominees, the Toronto-based hedge fund said in a statement Tuesday. Guidry would replace interim CEO Duncan Nightingale.

“West Face is committed to fixing Gran Tierra and creating value on behalf of all shareholders,” said Thomas Dea, Partner of West Face, in a statement.

West Face, run by Greg Boland, blames a decline in Gran Tierra’s value since the beginning of 2011 on “failed high-risk, high-cost” exploration in Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

The company has attractive assets in Colombia and the ability to grow through targeted spending, joint ventures or other business combinations, the fund said.

“Unless the history of poor governance and sub-par management is fixed, the company risks further squandering its under-appreciated strategic position,” the fund said.

West Face’s nominees for the board are Robert Hodgins, former chairman of Caracal Energy, Brooke Wade, president of Wade Capital Corp., Peter Dey, chairman of Paradigm Capital Inc., Ronald Royal, former president of Esso Exploration, and Guidry.

Karen Fosado, a spokeswoman for Gran Tierra, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Jeffrey Scott, Gran Tierra’s executive chairman, didn’t immediately return an e-mail message.

The push for change at Gran Tierra comes just days after FrontFour Capital said it would be seeking board changes at Legacy Oil + Gas Inc. People familiar with that situation also say the Greenwich, Connecticut-based hedge fund is potentially seeking a CEO change at Legacy, and the breakup or sale of that company.

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