A battle for control has broken out for Central Petroleum, with one-fifth of the $100 million Perth oil player's shares changing hands over the past six trading days.
Central Petroleum says it does not know what or who is behind the trading frenzy, which has been accompanied by a 28 per cent surge in share price amid market speculation a takeover may be in the wings.
The frenzy comes amid the acrimonious departure of Central Petroleum's founder and chief executive John Heugh, whose employment was terminated on Monday, just weeks out from the start of a fully-funded extended production test at the company's flagship Surprise project in central Australia.
It also comes at a time of rising global oil prices.
There has also been an increased level of rumour-mongering on investor chat sites, including suggestions a trio of businessmen want to roll Central Petroleum's board.
The talk was so persistent that Central Petroleum yesterday released a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange denying it had received a requisition notice from unnamed "various shareholders" wanting to install Peter Cockcroft, John Jetter and Colin Goodall on the board, at the expense of incumbent chairman Henry Askin and directors Richard Faull and William Dunmore.
It is unclear whether the requisition talk was sparked by Mr Heugh's departure.
Mr Heugh, who remains a non-executive director, has taken Supreme Court action against his termination.
Acting chief executive Dalton Hallgren said he was unaware of where the requisition talk came from. Central Petroleum was also in the dark about the identity of the parties behind the trading frenzy.
Central Petroleum shares firmed 0.1¢ to 8.7¢ yesterday on trading volume of 28.4 million shares.
On Tuesday, 26.8 million shares were traded while on Monday the turnover was 37.2 million.
Central Petroleum shares spent some of last week in a trading halt after recording daily turnover of 65.3 million and 59.3 million.
In total, 244 million shares changed hands in the past six trading days, or 19 per cent of Central Petroleum's capital base, while the price has risen from 6.8¢.Central Petroleum's daily turnover volumes were between two million and four million shares.
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