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Outgoing Gulfsands CEO Mahdi Sajjad. Image courtesy of Syria-oil.com.

Gulfsands Petroleum axed CEO Mahdi Sajjad on Tuesday after a months long battle with Waterford Finance, one the company’s largest investors.

Sajjad will be replaced by Waterford nominee Alastair Beardsall with immediate effect, UK-based Gulfsands said.

Beardsall, 61, has been involved in the oil industry for over 35 years and is currently chairman of Sterling Energy.

Waterford holds a 29.91 percent stake in London-listed Sterling Energy and a 28 percent stake in Gulfsands.

The investment group had called for the removal of five directors including Sajjad in December.

Waterford has criticized Gulfsands’ reluctance to expand out of Syria and argued the company was “recklessly” spending cash after sanctions suspended work at its Syrian operations, Reuters said.

Gulfsands said that because Beardsall is not considered independent in corporate governance terms he and Waterford have entered into a relationship deed with the company.

Outgoing chairman Andrew West has agreed to stay on as a non-executive director.

“I am pleased to be handing the reins to an oil industry professional of Alastair’s stature and am grateful to him for accepting the task at such a difficult moment in the Company’s evolution. I ask that, in the Company’s best interests, all shareholders, directors and employees now rally behind him, as I myself intend to do,” West said.

The company said it expects the appointment to be officially approved “very shortly.”