Metgasco shareholders will have the final say on offer
THE ultimate power to finally make the Northern Rivers gasfield free is now in the hands of Metgasco shareholders who will meet in December to decide our region's fate.
While the Metgasco board have recommended that its shareholders accept the $25 million settlement, a vocal band of Metgasco shareholders have taken to online investor forum Hot Copper to express their rejection of the figure.
Some have already threatened class action against the board. The $25 million compromise equates to 6.7 cents per share should the company close its Casino headquarters and liquidate. This represents only about a third of its value before the government suspended PEL 16, the Bentley blockade site, in May 2014.
Metgasco has spent $120 million on its North Coast gas licences over the past decade but now has only $32 million for any future acquisitions.
The settlement offer comes after protracted discussions that have been ongoing since July this year.
Accept, move on
Bentley landholder and Metgasco shareholder Charles Wilkinson said he wanted the shareholders to accept the offer so he could 'get back to a normal life'.
The architect and gas opponent said he believes shareholders will accept despite the tough talk on the online forum.
"(Metgasco CEO) Peter Henderson (who is among the company's top 20 shareholders) has a lot of influence. I think most shareholders want it all resolved," he said.
The ex-National Party member shares two boundaries with Peter Graham's property, the site of the historic Bentley blockade.
"We've kept the shares because we wanted to have a say at the annual general meetings," Mr Wilkinson explained.
"We initially bought shares when we heard about Metgasco's great plans - the power station and the employment opportunities. But after seeing what was happening in the Surat Basin we opposed the unconventional mining."
Metgasco Chairman Mr Len Gill said it was a hard decision but recommended its shareholders also accept the offer.
"The board has to consider the risks associated with ongoing project approval delays, higher costs and difficulties funding activities over the next few years," he said.
Northern Rivers developer and shareholder John Vaughan said he was "very surprised" the board accepted the $25 million settlement figure.
It's very disappointing when the State Government had actively encouraged exploration and once this valuable resource had been discovered, decided to unlawfully suspend the licence.
He said the offer represented about seven cents per share and he would think about it before making any decision.
Adam Guise, 2015 Greens candidate
"I think shareholder rejection and call for a class action against the board is mostly bluff and bluster," he said.
"Any legal action would be tenuous."