The following interview was conducted with David Bovell during the week of May 5, 2008. Mr. Bovell, who recently was appointed vice president corporate development with ERHC, discussed issues related to his responsibilities, including expanding the Company’s assets through acquisitions and exploring various stock exchange listing alternatives.
Q: What do you see as the primary roles and responsibilities coming into that new position?
I see them as three-fold: First is to list a subsidiary of ERHC Energy Inc. on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange. The second function for the short- or medium-term is to help to expand the company’s assets. Initiating and managing the search process, reviewing and quantifying the applicable opportunities, then assisting management to come to a conclusion. The third function is to enhance shareholder value and to assist the company in realizing shareholder value through corporate communications and doing deals that achieve positive financial results.
Q: Explain the rationale for listing a subsidiary on the AIM exchange.
The idea would be to create a brand new company, an ERHC subsidiary, that would be incorporated in an advantageous tax environment. The company would initially be 100 percent owned by ERHC Energy Inc directly or through its wholly owned Cayman holding company. We would then list that new company on the AIM. We will be creating a separate asset pool for the company. In due course, we would seek to raise money on the London Stock Exchange so that we could invest in assets that were appropriate in that part of the world.
Q: What impact would that have on ERHC Inc.’s assets in the Gulf of Guinea?
None. ERHC Energy Inc. would have its core, directly-owned assets in West Africa and elsewhere. It would also have a large percentage of the U.K.-listed company, which would have substantial assets of its own. There would be a common management team that would be managing both, which can create synergies. Accessing the additional pool of capital through the AIM, we can achieve a higher number than if you had just done everything through the U.S. company.
Q: What is the benefit of today’s shareholders of the scenario you’re describing regarding the U.K.-listed Company?
It gives us access to another capital pool and should enhance value for today’s shareholders. It would enable us to do transactions that we otherwise would not be able to do because we would be capital constrained over here.
Q: Do you see ERHC Energy Inc. continuing to be listed on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board?
In the next 12 to 18 months I anticipate ERHC Energy Inc. should be in a position to move from the OTC. Either the AMEX or NASDAQ would be a better place to be than the OTC.
Q: You’ve been associated with the company since early 2007. What have you done for ERHC as a consultant in that time?
Basically, I have been looking at merger and acquisition opportunities for the company and advising the Company on its listing options, as far as the European markets are concerned.
Q: What attracted you to ERHC as an outsider?
As a consultant, the reason I was attracted to ERHC was that the company had potential. I’ve since learned a lot about ERHC’s opportunities that has reinforced my initial views. The primary factor was seeing that there is a real opportunity for the company to grow from an investor’s point of view.
Q: When you say that ERHC had potential, can you expand on that?
ERHC looked like a company that was undervalued but had great potential. Those are the types of opportunities we looked for.
Q: Some people might say that’s still a good description for where ERHC is today.
That situation is going to change and together with Peter and the existing management team, we are going to change it. The board has made it clear that this is what they want and the shareholders seem to be enthused by that.
Q: Would you say that ERHC’s Gulf of Guinea assets serve as the foundation to build upon?
Exactly. The core value of the company lies in the Gulf of Guinea, which is going to be the major driver and at the moment it is the foundation of the company’s valuation. In order to realize the value of the Gulf of Guinea opportunities, there are things we need to do in the interim. That is to diversify and use the company’s expertise to tap into other opportunities that will deliver in an earlier timeframe.
Q: What business do you think ERHC is in?
We are an energy investment company. ERHC has a technical expertise, but that expertise won’t extend to being an operator. It will extend to being able to understand an investment opportunity from a technical standpoint and then to realize value by putting money into the right projects.
Q: What is the area of focus of your attention?
The initial area of focus will be Africa and Europe right up to the borders of Russia. Does that mean that it will be the sole source of my focus? No. We will pay attention to North America as well.
Q: Do you continue to see West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea being an area of emphasis?
Yes. There are some serious opportunities there. With the contacts we have, we have an ability to get into them expeditiously before anybody else drives the price up.
Q: What haven’t I touched on that you think we should cover?
The only way you can enhance shareholder value sustainably is to go out there and give the investing public a sense of where the company is and where it’s going and the potential benefits of investing in the company. So we will spend a fair amount of time on that as well, because enhanced shareholder value is something the board, management and all the shareholders would like to see.