Colombian tribe tries to block £240m Amerisur deal

A Colombian tribe is mounting a last-ditch attempt to thwart a £240m takeover of Amerisur Resources, a London-listed energy company which has agreed to be bought by a larger rival.
Sky News has learnt that the law firm Leigh Day has lodged an attempt to secure an injunction that would prevent Amerisur being sold in the coming days to GeoPark, a Latin American oil and gas explorer.

A court hearing is understood to have been scheduled for later this week.
Leigh Day is representing members of tribes who live alongside Colombia’s Putumayo river, following long-running allegations that Amerisur polluted local water supplies and endangered locals’ health.

Image: Amerisur chairman Giles Clarke is a former chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board
The company, which is listed on London’s junior AIM market, has denied that it was responsible for the alleged contamination, which was reported by The Guardian newspaper last year.

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Residents had told the newspaper that they and their families had suffered severe physical symptoms from the disposal of wastewater directly into the Putumayo.

It was unclear on Tuesday evening what the prospects were for Leigh Day’s efforts to secure an injunction blocking or delaying the deal.

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In a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Amerisur made no mention of the legal challenge, and said the takeover by GeoPark was on track to complete next week.
Amerisur is chaired by Giles Clarke, a colourful businessman who founded Majestic Wine and spent eight years as chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Last year, Mr Clarke and his colleagues in the Amerisur boardroom put the company up for sale following expressions of interest in acquiring it or its assets.
Before agreeing the takeover by GeoPark, Amerisur rejected a bid from Paris-based Maurel & Prom, another resources group.
The legal effort by the Colombian tribe to try to prevent the Amerisur deal being completed is the latest in a growing number of environmental protests and legal claims against sizeable natural resources companies.
BHP, the FTSE-100 miner, is facing a multibillion pound legal action over the 2015 Samarco dam collapse which became Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
If the takeover of Amerisur goes ahead, it would represent another in a long line of oil and gas explorers to disappear from the London stock market.
An Amerisur spokesman declined to comment, while Leigh Day also declined to comment.

Source : Sky News