Veteran oil man Algy Cluff is stepping down as chief executive of Cluff Natural Resources, the oil and gas company he founded in 2012.

A statement from the exploration company said the 77-year-old who made his fortune in the North Sea in the 1970s, was stepping down to “allow him to commit time to other interests”.

Graham Swindells, the finance director, will take over as chief executive. Mr Cluff will remain chairman.

Mr Cluff, who was proprietor of the Spectator magazine in the early 1980s, first made his name in the discovery of Buchan oil field, one of the first oil fields in the British North Sea in 1975. He sold his interest sold to BP.

Cluff Natural Resources, which is listed on London’s junior Alternative Investment Market, is one of a number of companies he founded that carry his name - the others include Cluff Oil, Cluff Gold, Cluff Mining, and Cluff Geothermal.

A former guards officer, Mr Cluff used the money he made in the North Sea to invest in Africa.

He has a singularly old-school approach to business. In 2014, he complained that this newspaper’s Lunch with the FT column gave the impression deals could be done over “a mouthful of lettuce, a banana and a glass of water”.

He told London’s Evening Standard: “A visit to the West End of London, home of the gentleman’s club and of the five-star restaurant, would suggest that a lot of decisions are still taken by people who are not frightened of eating and drinking”.

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