Shares in Capricorn Energy closed more than 10 per cent lower yesterday despite the promise of a $575 million pay-out to investors by its new management team.

Posting a pre-tax loss of $128.3m (£103m) for the year to December 31, Edinburgh-headquartered Capricorn also named Randy Neely as its new chief executive.

Mr Neely, until recently president and chief executive of Egypt-focused operator TransGlobe Energy, will take over on June 1 with interim chief executive Chris Cox departing after a handover period. Mr Cox took took the helm after a successful campaign by activist shareholder Palliser Capital to eject the majority of Capricorn's previous board of directors in January.

READ MORE: Capricorn saga illustrates the clarity of the rear-view mirror

Palliser was at the forefront of a months-long offensive to pressure the company led by former chief executive Simon Thomson into abandoning a deal with Israel's NewMed Energy, which critics argued undervalued Capricorn. First announced in September, the NewMed deal led Capricorn to scrap a previously-recommended merger with Tullow Oil.

Capricorn said yesterday that it plans to commit $450m to a special dividend to be paid to shareholders in May, a further $100m in the fourth quarter, and a share buyback of at least $25m.

The $100m payout will depend on revenues generated by its Egyptian assets, the company said, as well as the outcome of negotiations over its Egyptian licences and movements in oil and gas prices this year. It further noted that it had $97m in receivables outstanding from Egypt as of the end of last year.

Capricorn has started selling its UK interests in the Catcher and Kraken fields as it offloads its non-Egyptian assets, including licences in Mexico, Mauritania and Suriname, as part of the new board's strategic review unveiled last month.

READ MORE: Capricorn pulls the plug on controversial NewMed merger

The company is seeking smaller offices for its headquarters in Edinburgh after announcing as part of that review that it had entered redundancy consultations with approximately 120 of its 238 global employees. Once finished, Capricorn expects to have less than 40 people working in the UK.

When Capricorn announced the agreement with NewMed in September it said the deal valued Capricorn shares at 271p, including a $620 million special dividend, which was a 13% premium over the previous day's price.

The old leadership said that without the deal, no more than $500 million could be returned to shareholders. 

Days after the new board - which includes several directors backed by Palliser - announced the results of its strategic review, BP and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) revealed their own plans to buy half of NewMed. The $4 billion net asset value of NewMed implied by the bid compares to the $2.6bn estimated by Palliser when it was campaigning against the tie-up with Capricorn.

READ MORE: NewMed merger 'significantly' less likely as Capricorn caves in

Chairman Craig van der Laan said yesterday that the board is "very confident about the return of $575m-plus over the next 12 months". 

Formerly known as Cairn Energy, Capricorn's revenues tripled last year to $229.6m, driven by an average realised oil price of $98.8 per barrel. However, it swung to a pre-tax loss of $128.3m from a pre-tax profit of $873.7m in the year prior, when it was boosted by a $1.07 billion tax refund in India.

"We are pleased to report our initial findings, which include five areas of decisive strategic action," Mr van der Laan said.

"These include a decision to make a material return of capital to shareholders; a significant cost reduction as part of a broader plan to preserve shareholder cash; the curtailment of expensive exploration activities outside of near field activity in Egypt; plans to improve the Egypt business; and a drive for a culture change across the company."

He added: "As we take the next actions in our review, I am pleased to announce that Capricorn will benefit from the leadership of Randy Neely, a highly accomplished industry figure with extensive experience of successful operations in Egypt."

Shares in Capricorn closed 25p lower yesterday, down 10.3% at 217.6p.