Trouble in Lekoil as board fires CEO, Olalekan Akinyanmi

Lekoil Limited, an oil and gas exploration and production company with a focus on Nigeria and West Africa, has announced the termination of contract of appointment of its Founder/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Olalekan Akinyanmi, with immediate effect.

Olalekan Akinyanmi, CEO/Founder Lekoil and Gas

What Lekoil is saying in its statement
A statement issued by the company on Thursday, June 3, 2021, announcing the termination and seen by Nairametrics, read in part:

“Lekoil, the oil and gas exploration and production company with a focus on Nigeria and West Africa, announces that it has terminated the employment contract of its CEO, Mr Olalekan Akinyanmi, with immediate effect, due to a corporate governance breach.

The Company will commence a search for a new CEO and, in the interim period, Anthony Hawkins will act as interim Executive Chairman of the Company.

As previously announced, the Company is the lender under a loan agreement with Mr Akinyanmi (the “Loan”). As at 31 May 2021, the outstanding balance of the Loan was approximately US$1.5 million. The Company will commence proceedings to recover the Loan.”

The boardroom squabbles
This turn of events at Lekoil does not come as a surprise to followers of events at the oil and gas firm which has been bedevilled with internal wrangling and power tussle.

In the culmination of a bitter dispute between the Lekoil Founder/CEO, Lekan Akinyanmi and top shareholder, Metallon, the shareholders of the London-listed Nigerian oil company voted in January 2021, to approve the latter’s bid to add 3 members to the company’s board, expanding it to 7.

The dispute between Lekan Akinyanmi and Metallon caught the attention of Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources and created more unwanted publicity for the company which was in the news for a fraudulent loan last year.

Akinyanmi had fought the change to the board, citing that if Metallon succeeded, they could be in a stronger position to make a takeover attempt.

Lekoil had also faced scrutiny from the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources for not notifying it over Metallon’s build-up of shares in the company.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, in a letter sent to Lekoil on December 30, warned that he should have been informed and that there could be consequences for not notifying him about such significant change of shareholding.

Metallon was attracted to invest in the oil and gas firm due to its low share price and a $1.9 million loan to Akinyanmi, amongst other reasons.

What you should know
Lekoil was founded in 2010 by Olalekan (“Lekan”) Akinyanmi, a Nigerian and former analyst at Alliance Bernstein, a group of professionals from the finance and oil industry. The company is a Cayman incorporated company, headquartered in Lagos and focused on African oil exploration and production with interests in Nigeria and offshore Namibia.

Metallon, a private investment company that owns four gold mines in Zimbabwe, became a shareholder of Lekoil last March and now has a 15.1% stake, making it the top investor.

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