Massey Energy names two new independent board members to review shareholder litigation

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Massey Energy Co. has named two new independent directors who will head a committee to review shareholder litigation, stemming from an April 5 explosion at a West Virginia coal mine that killed 29 people.
The newly appointed directors are Robert B. Holland III, executive co-chairman of Max Petroleum Plc, an oil exploration company in Dallas; and Linda J. Welty of Greensboro, Ga., an experienced business executive from the chemical industry. Massey said in a press release that Holland has served on the boards of several publicly-traded companies, and that he represented the U.S. on the board of executive directors of the World Bank from 2002 until 2006. Welty is an experienced executive with more than 30 years in the chemical industry.  According to Massey, she has a record of “redirecting and rejuvenating various business enterprises, initiating and leading change within large organizations.” 

Admiral Bobby R. Inman, lead independent director at Virginia-based Massey, provided a brief explanation of the company’s move in a statement.  “In our effort to be fully responsive to stockholder concerns, we have appointed this committee of two new directors to provide the board of directors a fresh yet informed analysis of the issues raised in a number of shareholder derivative suits and a related shareholder demand brought by stockholders. Their evaluation should provide us with valuable guidance on what steps the company should take in connection with these lawsuits.”

Two lawsuits have been filed against Massey following the explosion at its Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, one by the widow of a miner and another by a shareholder group.  The California State Teachers Retirement System , which owns stock in Massey, said in June that it would join the shareholder lawsuit filed by Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, a New-York based trust. The suits alleges that Massey failed to meet safety obligations.  The explosion, the country’s worst mining accident in 40 years, also is under investigation by federal mine safety agencies. Since the tragedy,  the value of Massey’s shares have dropped about 42 percent.

Massey, which has its headquarters in Richmond, is the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia. 

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