Gas explorer Coro Energy (LSE:CORO) has formally announced the appointment of Salamander Energy founder James Menzies as its chief executive. Menzies is the latest in a string of high profile appointments announced by Coro in support of its new pan Euro-Asian strategy, adopted at the end of last year– it was previously focused solely on Europe. The shift also saw Coro change its name from Saffron Energy, secure £14m of institutional funding and acquire Sound Energy Holdings Italy.
Before joining Coro, Menzies served as chief executive of Salamander before selling it to Ophir Energy in 2015 in a transaction that valued the firm at $850m. He is a qualified geologist with over 30 years of oil and gas industry experience and also sits on the board of Trinity Exploration & Production and Guinness Oil & Gas Exploration. The appointment, first announced in March, will also see current chief executive Sara Edmondson assume the role of deputy chief executive and remain on Coro’s board.
As part of its new strategy, Coro appointed James Parsons, chief executive officer of Sound Energy (LSE:SOU) and chairman of Echo Energy (LSE:ECHO) as its non-executive chairman last December. It also added Fiona MacAulay, chief executive of Echo Energy and Marco Fumagalli, managing director of Continental Investment Partners as non-executive directors.
In January, it hired experienced AIM corporate-financier and investment manager Andrew Dennan as its chief financial officer. Then, in February, it brought Ilham Habibie, a well-known Indonesian businessman and son of the country’s former president, to its board to support its focus on South East Asia.
Regarding Menzies appointment, Parsons said: ‘I am very pleased to welcome James to the Board of Coro at this exciting time as we look to enter South East Asia and accelerate towards establishing ourselves as a leading regional gas player. James’s prior engagements in South East Asia, deep local knowledge and in-country connectivity are invaluable assets we will deploy to drive shareholder value. James brings several decades of oil industry experience at senior level, and his track record in building Salamander Energy is proven. We look forward to him leading the business as the senior team identifies the right opportunities to create value for investors.’
With the backing of such an experienced team, Coro could look attractive at its current 3.8p share price, which is a 13pc discount to its placing price in January and April. The firm has placed around 645m shares at 4.38p since January and has issued c.164m two-for-one warrants at an exercise price of 6.57p. It can be the case where warrants are issued, that some placees opt to sell their initial investment in the the placing at close to breakeven – this offers the chance to retain a risk-free interest in the company via the warrants, which can then be exercised when in profit. If its weekly average volume of around 11.2m shares since the beginning of the year continues, it could take a while to shift any potential overhang from the fundraises. However, with newsflow expected on progress and further asset acquisition, shares could rise once any sellers have cleared and only long-term shareholders remain.