ROVworld Subsea Information

Venture Boss Decides To Call It A Day
Date: Friday, September 10, 2004 @ 02:48:31 EDT

The millionaire boss of Aberdeen oil and gas production company Venture Production quit yesterday.

Chief executive Bruce Dingwall, 44, went on the same day the firm announced its half-year profits had slumped.

Venture shares dropped more than 11% yesterday morning to 206p, but they closed at 212p.

The company's finance director Mike Wagstaff, 42, has become the new chief executive.

Mr Dingwall said he had decided to step aside now because his job was done. He had started Venture and got it to its current stage of development.

But one analyst said it was not really a surprise that Mr Dingwall had chosen to go.

"He has been under pressure. The company has not met expectations. Ever since Venture floated in 2002, there seems to have been never-ending disappointing news coming out of the company.

"There have been several profit warnings and the only thing that has helped the share price has been the high price of oil."

Mr Dingwall - who co-founded Venture in 1997 - departed yesterday lunchtime after his last task of speaking to journalists and analysts about the figures for the first half of 2004.

He said about quitting: "It was purely my decision. I have never had a break in my life. I need some time to stop thinking about Venture and then I will see what I will do."

Mr Dingwall, a former president of the UK Offshore Operators' Association, said he had a young family and he wanted to spend time with them.

He did not know how long his break from work would be, but he did not think he would leave the oil industry.

Mr Dingwall has no plans to dispose of his shares in Venture. The company's annual report for 2003 showed that Mr Dingwall held just over 4.15million shares and nearly a million share options.

Yesterday's Venture results revealed interim pre-tax profits were down 22% to £7.2million.

The profits had been hit by a £3million impairment charge against the carrying value of interests in Trinidad.

One industry source said: "It is always easy to promise jam tomorrow, like Venture seems to do. It's very easy to talk a big story, but not so easy to deliver it. Today's Venture results were a disappointment."

However, Mr Dingwall said: "I am very proud of all that has been achieved to date at Venture. We have built Venture into one of the UK's leading independent oil and gas operating companies, while maintaining its focus on its core strategy - the acquisition and exploitation of 'stranded' reserves in mature basins.

"Mike Wagstaff has been an integral part of building Venture and remains committed to our business model. Mike will be an excellent chief executive and I am confident that he and the outstanding team we have created at Venture will continue to flourish."

Mr Wagstaff added: "Since 1997, Venture has demonstrated the merits of its strategy in mature basins such as the North Sea and Trinidad. We are now entering a new phase in the evolution of the company with the organisation focused on growth and delivery from our existing asset base as well as additional acquisitions."

Chairman John Morgan said Mr Dingwall had been the founder and driver of Venture from its creation to what was arguably the most successful start up in the North Sea in the last decade.

Source: The Press & Journal

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