Massey Board Under the Gun

The following is a statement from the CtW Investment Group Executive Director William Patterson regarding the results of the shareholder vote at today’s Massey Energy Company annual meeting.

Preliminary tallies indicate that shareholders cast 49.8% of their shares against Dan Moore, 49.6% against Baxter Phillips Jr., and 48.5% against Richard Gabrys.  This razor thin vote casts a cloud over the legitimacy of the current Massey board and is a clear demand for new directors who will make needed changes in company leadership. The opposition votes against the Massey directors were the highest of any this year at an S&P 500 company.  Despite demands from shareholders at the meeting today, the Company refused to disclose the actual vote count and that nearly half of the voting shares appear to have opposed these directors’ election.

North Carolina’s State Treasurer Janet Cowell also criticized the company’s leadership. “Based on the close results, it is clear that a near majority of shareholders have no confidence in these directors. We will continue our fight to secure leadership at Massey Energy Company that will look out for the interest of their shareholders and the safety of their own workers,” Cowell said in a statement. (Three directors re-elected to Massey board, MarketWatch, 5/18/10)

Two non-binding shareholder proposals passed at the meeting. One urged the Massey board to have all of its members stand for election annually—a move the board announced it was endorsing last Friday. A second resolution suggested that directors facing reelection be required to receive a majority of votes cast. Last month, Massey directors adopted a similar policy. Two other proposals that would have encouraged the board to issue reports on the company’s water management and carbon emissions failed to pass. (Three Massey Directors Eke Out Reelection, WSJ, 5/18/10)

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