Tuesday, 25 March 2014

ENRC sailed off into the sunset....

Remember Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation? 

If not, here is a gentle reminder: ENRC was the Kazakh mining company that successfully floated in 2007 but the business was taken private by its founders late last year following a long-running corporate governance spat with Sir Paul Judge, the City grandee who used to sit on the board of the business. 

Once ENRC was taken private at a knock-down price, the market expected the company and its founders to sail off into the sunset and stay out of the public eye. 

However, Jim Armitage, deputy business editor at The Independent, appears to have put paid to that theory by landing a scoop about the court case row between Sir Paul and ENRC over allegations of leaks that damaged the company's share price. 

Armitage has got hold of court papers alleging "leaks" to the media that ENRC claims Sir Paul made, including allegations of corruption at the company's Kazakhstan operation to details of high-level arguments within the company. 

Here is a link to Armitage's piece - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/exclusive-enrc-turns-up-heat-in-media-leaks-claim-against-city-grandeeleaking-9213276.html - with all the gory details of the allegations of various "leaks" involving Sir Paul, who reportedly earned £125, 000 a year as non-executive director of ENRC. 

And it looks like this muck raking is likely to continue as the court case starts in earnest over the coming weeks.       

ENRC shares were listed in 2007 at 540p. The stock then rose to as high as £11.00 during the commodities boom but fell to as low as 220p following the corporate governance row over the last couple of years. 

If the court finds that Sir Paul was responsible for some or all of the leaks, it will be interesting to see whether any of the shareholders - majority or minority - decide to sue him for the decline in the share price.

Also, I'm not sure how well "leaking" will go down with the City of London Corporation and its court of Aldermen. Sir Paul is a member of this cosy club and last year's row with ENRC didn't stop his subsequent election as Aldermanic Sheriff for 2013 - 2014.  

Indeed, newspaper reports are now suggesting Sir Paul is on course to become Lord Mayor of London. 

Funny that because if he is appointed as Lord Mayor of London part of his role will be to advertise the benefits of floating in London to companies from far-flung destinations, such as, err, Kazakhstan!  



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