THE rebel investor that stoked a boardroom coup at Bowleven is set to receive around £15m after the company announced plans to return £50m to investors.

Crown Ocean Capital is in line to get by far the biggest share of the special dividend that Bowleven’s board has decided it should pay.

Led by German financiers Christian Petersmann and Konstantin Stoyanov, Crown Ocean holds a 29% stake in Bowleven after leading a campaign that saw former chief executive Kevin Hart voted off the board with four other directors in March 2017.

Bowleven moved its head office from Edinburgh to London as the new management team at the firm slimmed down operations, shedding around 30 jobs in the process.

New chief executive Eli Chahin has 1.1m shares in Cameroon-focused Bowleven, meaning he is set to receive around £170,000 under the special dividend plan.

News that Bowleven had decided to make the payout sent shares in the firm surging 16 per cent yesterday on the Aim market. With the shares closing up 4.35p at 31.12p the firm had a market capitalisation of around £100m.

The special dividend comes after some investors in Bowleven suffered hefty paper losses on their investments in the firm.

Bowleven raised around £110m from investors at placings completed at 327p and 67p per share under Mr Hart.

It raised £55m at 650p per share in 2005 under a former management team.

Bowleven has enjoyed success with the drill bit off Cameroon but has yet to bring any finds into production.

After leaving Bowleven, Mr Hart defended the performance of the company in his 10 years in charge, noting it found a lot of oil and gas off Cameroon but was frustrated by geopolitical factors.

Bowleven clinched a deal to sell stakes in the Etinde permit off Cameroon to New Age and Russia’s Lukoil for $250m under Mr Hart’s leadership in 2014.

The fallout from the plunge in the oil price from $115 per barrel in June 2014 to less than $30/bbl early in 2016 created complications.

The decision to make the special dividend payment signals the new management team’s confidence in the prospects for Bowleven being able to bring finds on Etinde into production.

The company said that after completing a drilling campaign on the field in October 2018, directors had resolved to distribute a significant portion of its surplus cash resources to shareholders.

Bowleven said the level of the dividend took into account the board’s expectation of the company deciding in the short to medium term to develop Etinde. The reaching of such a final investment decision (FID) would trigger a payment of $25m from the partners in Etinde under the deal struck by Mr Hart.

Mr Chahin described the planned special dividend as a significant liquidity event for shareholders. He added: “With the 2019 budget agreed, the Board is comfortable that the Company’s resulting cash position will allow it to reach FID, with our JV partners, creating a further significant value accretive event for shareholders and immediately allowing for the payment of $25 million under the terms of the Etinde farm-out agreement.”

Bowleven has a 20% stake in Etinde. It had $80m cash and financial instruments at November 30.

The firm intends to pay the special dividend on February 8 to shareholders on the register on January 18.

Regulatory filings show HSBC has an 8.9% stake in Bowleven. Holland’s OVMK Vermogensbeheer holds around 5%.