UPDATE 1-West Face to wage proxy battle against Gran Tierra Energy

Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:31pm EDT
 
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(Updates with share close, adds details on West Face nominees)

TORONTO, April 21 (Reuters) - Canadian activist firm West Face Capital Inc on Tuesday launched a proxy battle against Gran Tierra Energy and outlined plans to put up a slate of six nominees for the energy firm's board, saying that its current four-member board has failed investors.

West Face, whose managed funds control roughly 9.8 percent of Gran Tierra's shares, said the current board has overseen a failed high-risk, high-cost exploration strategy in Peru, Argentina and Brazil that has led to the destruction of more than half the company's market value since the start of 2011.

The activist firm plans to nominate six candidates for election to Gran Tierra's board at its annual meeting on June 24.

A representative for the Calgary-based energy company was not immediately reachable for comment.

West Face, which wants Gran Tierra to shift its strategic focus to its core properties in Colombia, also pitched oil and gas executive Gary Guidry to take over as chief executive, a role left empty since Dana Coffield was ousted in February.

Guidry is the former CEO of Caracal Energy Inc, which was bought out by Glencore last year. Four of West Face's other five board nominees are former Caracal directors.

Gran Tierra's current board is headed by executive chairman Jeffrey Scott, who manages company operations along with interim president Duncan Nightingale.

Shares in Gran Tierra closed up 4.1 percent at C$3.52 ($3) on Tuesday following the West Face announcement. The stock was worth C$8.19 ($7) at the start of 2011, rising to C$9.37 ($8) in February 2011, before falling to a low of C$2.58 ($2) earlier this year. ($1 = 1.2275 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto and Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ted Botha)