Regency revealed that after Bell had duly been re-elected as a director at its AGM last week, he had elected to relinquish the role of chairman and chief executive, but to remain as a director.
Bell cites an increasing regulatory burden as one reason for the change, arguing that effective dealing in Regency shares was all but precluded to him, due to the nature of rules on close periods and transactions by insiders.
He also notes that overall he has put more money into Regency in the form of equity investments than he has taken out as salary. Bell currently holds just over 4% of Regency.
Aside from Bell, the only other executive director at Regency is chief financial officer and chief operating officer Scott Kainz, who also serves on the board of Regency’s sister company Red Rock Resources PLC (LON:RRR). Red Rock was also founded by Bell, who remains as chairman there.
It was thus no coincidence that the next working day after Bell stepped back from Regency, Red Rock announced that it would be taking a major equity position in African Battery Metals PLC (LON:ABM), a company with a West African exploration portfolio currently suspended from its AIM-listing pending a financial restructuring.
Restructuring at Red Rock
Bell, it turns out, is set to be a key player in that restructuring. He has notified investors that he’ll put up £50,000 personally, alongside a £100,000 cash investment from Red Rock, as part of a wider £1mln fundraising.
If the transaction is approved, Red Rock will end up with 25mln shares in African Battery Metals, or just under 7%.
It’s worth noting too that another major Regency shareholder, Paul Johnson, whom seasoned investors will recall as the man who built Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) into the company it is today, is also participating in the African Battery Metals refinancing.
Bell himself is enthusiastic about these changes. It’s proposed that he will go onto the board of African Battery Metals as chairman, a role for which, it has to be said, he has plenty of experience.
Red Rock shares are more than 10% higher than they were three years ago when consolidation was pushed through, but with the gold price rising and mining markets still attempting to stutter to life, there’s room for plenty more upside.
And, if African Battery Metals stake can be turned to good account, there could be a strong boost to net asset value ahead. Bell will have the management of that process in hand in his role as chairman.
At Regency though, he looks likely to take more of a back seat from now on, as a major group of shareholders consolidate control.
There remains a small cross-holding between Regency and Red Rock, and although this was significant in the past in terms of control, Bell now says its importance has diminished to the point where it’s not really meaningful.
So, it’ll be interesting to watch how this all unfolds. The next major event will be the African Battery Metals general meeting on 15 February.