Gulf Keystone Silences Twitter Fantasist Behind Share Collapse
LONDON - U.K.-listed oil explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum PLC obtained assurances Thursday that an individual who spread damaging rumors about the company on message-distribution system Twitter, which were later admitted to be fantasies, would cease to comment publicly on the company's activities.
According to court documents, 28-year-old Spencer Freeman posted numerous messages on Twitter about Gulf Keystone between June 2011 and May 2012, culminating in a claim May 9 that the company was preparing to raise cash by issuing shares at a price of 160 pence, a 22% discount to its closing share price the previous day.
Shares in Gulf Keystone plunged by as much as 9% that day and remained down until the company refuted the claims in a regulatory filing May 10.
Gulf Keystone was seeking to prevent Freeman "posting untrue and damaging allegations" that prompted a collapse in its share price and took up substantial management time "dealing with disgruntled investors and press inquiries," according to court documents.
Freeman will voluntarily abide by Gulf Keystone's demands, in an agreement that will have the same legal force as a court injunction, said Justice David Bean, the presiding judge in the case. Gulf Keystone will take no further proceedings against Freeman, but he could face contempt of court charges if he breaches his undertakings, said Bean.
Freeman and a spokeswoman for Gulf Keystone declined to comment on the hearing.
Gulf Keystone's main assets are large oil discoveries in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Its shares have been highly volatile, rising and falling almost twofold as unfounded rumors swirled that it would be subject to a takeover bid from U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp.
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