GeoPark Ltd. (GPRK) co-founder Gerald E. O’Shaughnessy on Friday, June 18, issued a letter urging the Latin American upstream oil and gas company to consider strategic alternatives — and said he would vote against certain directors without a board shake-up.
In the letter to GeoPark’s board, O’Shaughnessy, an 11% stakeholder, said that CEO Jim Park, also a co-founder, has resisted a “full and independent evaluation of strategic alternatives,” which has led to missed M&A opportunities.
O’Shaughnessy, 72, argued that GeoPark’s board has failed to exert oversight of management, adding he would vote against certain unspecified directors at the company’s 2021 annual meeting if it didn’t put him and three independent candidates on the board. The energy company’s director nomination deadline for 2021’s annual meeting, set for July 15, appears to have long passed.
O’Shaughnessy said he was removed as GeoPark’s chairman earlier this month, and on June 13 he resigned from his directorship at the Bogotá, Colombia-based company, which has an $840 million market capitalization.
In the letter, O’Shaughnessy argued that while the company’s Colombian assets generate attractive returns, many projects in other jurisdictions lacked scale. O’Shaughnessy added that in May, he was asked by some directors to maintain preliminary talks with certain parties about potential business transactions.
He said, however, he subsequently discovered that a major “impediment to achieving the best” transaction for shareholders “is the perception among potential strategic partners” that Park is insistent that “any combination or partnership be led by management under his control.”
O’Shaughnessy was a director at GeoPark between 2006 and June 2021, according to relationship mapping service BoardEx, a sister company to The Deal. Park, 66 and a 14% holder, also began serving on GeoPark’s board in 2006.
GeoPark, which has operations in Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador, did not return requests for comment.