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Oil chief Cross in line for windfall of £5m

PARKMEAD executive chairman Tom Cross is poised to enjoy a £5.1 million windfall on share options in the oil and gas explorer as the group taps investors for £40m to fund a drilling programme in the North Sea and back further acquisitions.

TOM CROSS: Saw shares rise more than 17p on the back of the news.
TOM CROSS: Saw shares rise more than 17p on the back of the news.

The fundraising received a warm welcome from the City. Parkmead's shares gained 17.125p, or 6.6%, to close at 275.125p and some analysts tip them to rise much further.

Mr Cross, who founded Parkmead in 2011, said: "2013 was an excellent year for Parkmead, with the company delivering significant growth throughout its asset base and in its production profile.

"This important, oversubscribed placing with major institutional investors will place Parkmead in a strong position, with over $66m of firepower to accelerate its growth through the development of its existing asset base, the planned applications in the recently opened UKCS (United Kingdom Continental Shelf) 28th Licensing Round and further corporate opportunities."

As part of the transaction, Mr Cross intends to convert 2.1m share appreciation rights into equity, Parkmead said.

With an exercise price of 23.25p attached to the options, he would make a £5.1m gain at Alternative Investment Market-listed Parkmead's prevailing share price.

Mr Cross's stake, which stands at 23.97%, would fall to 21.5% of the company's enlarged share capital, with a paper value of £51.6m.

Mr Cross previously made £57m in 2010 when Dana Petroleum, which he founded and ran, was sold to the Korea National Oil Corporation for £1.9bn.

Parkmead said the placing at 255p per share, a discount of 0.8% to the closing mid market price on January 27, is conditional on investor approval at a meeting on February 13.

The money raised will be used for a number of projects including accelerating high-impact drilling at the Skerryvore oil prospect in the Central Graben area of the North Sea which the company hopes could add significant oil and gas reserves to its books.

Parkmead also plans further work at the Athena oil field in the Outer Moray Firth to restore production to previous levels and is mulling bringing in a new production well to extend the life of the field.

The company recently boosted its interest in the field to 30% after buying a 20% stake owned by Germany's EWE.

"The directors believe there are similar opportunities for Parkmead to target, and certainty of funding and balance sheet strength is key to success in negotiations," the company said.

Parkmead wants to accelerate its exploration drilling schedule including at Davaar, west of Shetland in which it has a 30% interest.

It also plans to use the money to finalise its work on the latest UK licensing round which opened last week.

The new shares are equivalent to 22.5% of the company's existing share capital and will make up 17.9% of the enlarged share capital once the placing is completed.

Hugh Rich, of Parkmead's broker and bookrunner Charles Stanley Securities said: "This placing is an impressive vote of confidence in executive chairman Tom Cross and his team at Parkmead.

"The institutional appetite was very strong and the support shown to the company by an impressive number of new as well as existing institutional shareholders in this oversubscribed fundraising is consistent with our assessment that Parkmead is the pre-eminent junior oil and gas company operating in the political safety of Western Europe."

Charles Stanley colleague and analyst Brendan Long has a 374p target price on Parkmead's shares, 35.9% above their current price.

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