Walter shareholders stick with board

ALABAMA-based producer Walter Energy, locked in a proxy fight with investor Audley Capital, says late preliminary results show shareholders have voted to re-elect all 10 directors during its annual meeting.
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An Alabama overland conveyor structure linking Walter Energy's operations. Courtesy Walter Energy.

Donna Schmidt

The rejection of all five of Audley’s named replacements brings its bid to take control of Walter’s board to an end – for the time being.

The financial firm reportedly told the Birmingham Business Journal that it might try to step in again if it saw no improvement in its leadership.

Walter officials said its nominees were voted in by a wide margin.

“We are grateful for the support we received from our shareholders,” Walter Energy chairman Michael Tokarz and chief executive officer and director Walter Scheller III said.

“We remain focused on further strengthening Walter Energy and building shareholder value.”

The two said Walter had a sound strategy, strong liquidity and real progress “despite the volatile metallurgical coal market and global economic uncertainty”

“We look forward to continuing a dialogue with all of our investors as we continue to execute our plan,” the executives said.

The tabulation of the votes and certification of the results is being performed by independent election inspector IVS Associates.

For the time being, David Beatty, Mary Henderson, Jerry Kolb, Patrick Kriegshauser, Joseph Leonard, Graham Mascall, Bernard Rethore, Walter Scheller III, Michael Tokarz and AJ Wagner will all return to their seats.

Walter said an advisory proposal on executive compensation, known as proposal 2, had preliminarily determined that it had received a majority of the shares voted.

On proposal 3, initial results indicated it would ratify the appointment of its public accounting firm Ernst & Young for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013.

Audley managing partner Julian Treger told the Journal the firm would continue to monitor Walter’s efforts on debt and cost cutting and it felt the work it had done so far had pushed Walter’s leadership in the right direction.

“We’ve been the lightning rod for that,” he said.

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