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Boardroom Battles Continue At Gulf Keystone Petroleum Limited Plc

When in doubt, call in the French Foreign Legion. Gulf Keystone Petroleum (LSE: GKP) hasn’t quite done that, but its new chairman did spend six years with the legendary unit, as well completing a 242km marathon at age 60, and reaching the South Pole at age 63.

Gulf Keystone, which is exploring for oil in Kurdistan, has certainly been in the wars of late. After its share price got rather overexcited last year, as bid rumours reached their peak, worries about excessive boardroom pay, an ongoing ownership dispute in the courts and general concerns about whether it will be able to see its projects through to production have all dogged the company.

The fund management group M&G, which holds 5% of its shares, is trying to install four new non-executive directors, including a former director of the company. Gulf Keystone is carrying out due diligence on the quartet, and expects to issue a recommendation on their appointment shortly.

But Gulf Keystone has also said it would split the positions held by CEO and Chairman Todd Kozel, ahead of a proposed move from AIM to the Full List of the London Stock Exchange later this year. And today, the company announced that Simon Murray, currently of Essar Energy and formerly the chairman of Glencore International, is to take over as non-executive chairman with immediate effect. He will host events at the company’s Annual General Meeting later this month in Bermuda.

Murray will also chair the company’s remuneration committee. Kozel’s pay packet has the subject of many column inches in recent years, after he took home $22m in 2011 and a marginally more modest $14m in 2012.

Gulf Keystone shares rose a smidgen following this news, up 1% to 147p.

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> Stuart does not own shares in any company mentioned in this article.