DIRECTORS at Cairn Energy have spent more than £223,000 on shares in the oil and gas explorer helping the price rebound 6% from recent falls.

Chief executive Simon Thomson and his deputy Mike Watts each bought 65,965 shares, while chief financial officer Jann Brown purchased 16,490. All of the shares were bought at £1.504 each meaning both Mr Thomson and Mr Watts spent in excess of £99,000 with Ms Brown paying out around £24,800.

The deals mean Mr Thomson now has 453,348 ordinary shares, Mr Watts 1.23 million and Ms Brown 312,040.

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Shares closed up 9.6p at 160.9p. That clawed back some of the steep falls seen since mid-January when shares were trading around 270p.

First more than £86 million was wiped off the market capitalisation of the Edinburgh company on January 24 after it emerged it was facing an investigation from the Indian tax authorities.

The dispute concerns the company's tax bill for 2007, during which Cairn completed a £980m initial public offering of its former subsidiary in India.

Part of the probe also sees Cairn banned from selling the remaining10.3% stake it holds in the Cairn India operation, now controlled by Vedanta.

Cairn believes it has met all of its liabilities in full.

The shares fell again earlier this month as Cairn unveiled an annual loss of £660m and shelved a share buy back plan until the Indian investigation is completed.

Alongside that Sir Bill Gammell, who founded Cairn, confirmed he planned to step down as chairman following the company's annual general meeting in May.