Thursday saw David Sefton, a well-know figure on AIM, extend his portfolio of executive and non-executive positions by joining the board of Rose Petroleum (LSE:ROSE). Sefton, perhaps best known as the current executive chairman of Anglo African Oil & Gas (LSE:AAOG), has joined Rose as a non-executive director, together with Anglo African’s chief executive James Berwick. It’s an interesting move to see Sefton and Berwick team up in the embattled natural resources business and opens the question what they have planned next for the company.
Rose said it chose to hire the pair as a way of bringing in ‘experienced industry directors who can assist with the execution of [its] strategy’. The North America-focused firm hopes this will support it following a delay in its efforts to secure a farm-in or funding for its flagship Paradox Basin in Utah, where it is earning into a 75pc working interest.
Rose has identified drilling locations in naturally fractured areas of the Paradox Formation and has chosen its first well location. It is now permitted to drill and plans to commence the drilling programme and the first well as soon as possible, subject to rig availability, stipulations of the leases and financing.
In its announcement of Sefton and Berwick’s appointments, Rose highlighted the pair’s extensive experience within the oil and gas industry, across Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and North America. ‘The current Board believes that David and James have the skills and experience required to enable Rose to build a strong and sustainable company positioned for growth,’ it added.
On his move, Sefton said: ‘When James and I were approached to help, our starting position was that shareholders had funded this Company in order to realise the value in the Paradox asset and that therefore any plan had to be based on realising that value. We think that while there are clearly challenges, and James and I still have more work to do to understand all aspects of the Paradox, this is a situation where we can see several potential solutions.
‘We have quickly developed a good working relationship with Matt and his team and share their commitment to deliver value to Rose’s shareholders. It is too early to come to definitive conclusions as to the right plan, but we are acutely aware that time is of the essence and look forward to updating shareholders in the very near future.’
If Sefton’s recent appointment as exec chair at bottomed-out stem cell services firm WideCells (LSE:WDC) is anything to go by, then his addition to Rose could be promising for Paradox’s progress moving forward.
Sefton, who owned 29.9pc of WideCells in February through his Nuuco Media business, joined WideCells to advise on potential future strategies and acquisitions last month. Several weeks later, the company announced that it had created a division encompassing a new media and technology business focused on online marketing, content, and tech-driven products. The board also proposed a name change to ‘Iconic Labs’ and the appointment of a new CEO and CBO, both of whom were key players in the growth of web entertainment provider UNILAD.
Here, Sefton has demonstrated an ability to take a business like WideCells, which was on its knees following a series of critical funding missteps, and steer it into an entirely new creative direction. It is unlikely that the change at Rose will need to be so dramatic – after all, it still has a strong position in an attractive asset in a stable jurisdiction. Likewise, we are yet to see where ‘Iconic Labs’ will enjoy greater success than its previous iteration. However, shareholders will no doubt be waiting on tenterhooks to see if he can give the firm the kick in the right direction that it clearly needs – shares have plummeted from 3.9p to 1.2p over the last nine months.