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Mar 13, 2019

How Niko Resources fell from TSX high-flier to delisting

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One-time energy powerhouse Niko Resources Ltd. will end its life as a publicly-traded company Wednesday with a whimper when it is delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Calgary-based company grew from a penny stock that was first listed on the defunct Alberta Stock Exchange, eventually becoming a multibillion dollar darling on the Toronto Stock Exchange, all because of a risky bet it took on Indian natural gas that paid off. But it was events next door in Bangladesh that would come to define the company.

In 2011, Niko pleaded guilty to bribing a minister in Bangladesh under Canada’s 1998 Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and agreed to pay a $9.5-million fine. It never recovered from the conviction.

Below is a timeline of the highs and lows of Niko before it became a poster child for the consequences of bribing officials overseas.

July 1995

Production begins at Hazira gas field in India. The project is Niko’s first foray into international operations.

2003

Niko expands into Bangladesh to develop the Chattak and Feni natural gas fields. Production begins in 2004.

January 2005

A blowout occurs at Niko’s Chattak-2 well site. A blowout is a  sudden,  uncontrolled  flow  of  fluids  or gas from  the  subsurface. There are no injuries but a local school is closed and local residents were evacuated.

May 2005

Two local Niko representatives deliver a new Toyota Land Cruiser to A.K.M. Mosharraf Hossain, who was Bangladesh’s State Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources at the time. Hossain is the minister responsible or handling compensation claims from residents affected by the blowout.

June 2005

A second blowout occurs at the Chattak-2 site as Niko drills a relief well related to the January blowout.

June 2005

Canada’s then-ambassador to Bangladesh David Sproule meets with Qasim Sharif, Niko’s in-country executive, to discuss local media reports of bribery following the blowout. “These things are done all the time,” Sharif told Sproule.

2006

From 2001 to 2006, Niko’s market capitalization increases from $220 million to $2.5 billion.

January 2009

Niko confirms to investors that the RCMP has been investigating improper payments to Bangladeshi officials.

March 2010

Niko stock hits peak of $108.33 on the TSX. Oil prices are near US$100.

May 2011

The Globe and Mail reports that Niko CEO Ed Sampson is the top paid CEO in 2010 with compensation of $16.5 million, more than $15 million of which is based on stock options.

June 2011

Niko pleads guilty in an Alberta court to bribing Hossain with an SUV and trips to New York and Calgary. The company is fined $9.5 million and put on probation for 3 years.

December 2014

Niko hires Jefferies to explore strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company.

August 2015

Niko announces that it has failed to make interest payments to noteholders. The company blames a new natural gas policy in India for prices rising less than it expected.

March 2016

Shares of Niko rally on an announcement that the company will restructure its debt.

August 2017

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court orders a seizure of all of Niko’s assets in the country and voids all production agreements. The court agrees with a petitioner that assets will be held until Niko provides “adequate” compensation for the 2005 blowouts.

February 2019

Niko receives notice from the Toronto Stock Exchange that its shares and convertible notes will be delisted.