Nine State Investors Oppose Massey Directors

Poor safety records in regards to the April 5 explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 men and injured two have incited Massey Energy Inc. shareholders to rebel against the coal company.

(May 13, 2010) — A coalition of leaders from nine major public pension fund investors have called for Virginia-based Massey Energy shareholders to oppose the re-election of directors Baxter F. Phillips Jr., Richard M. Gabrys and Dan R. Moore. The opposition is in response to the deadly explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

The nine state pension funds represent the latest shareholders to rebel against Massey’s poor safety record, claiming shareholders should withhold their votes primarily because Massey’s directors failed to fulfill their safety oversight duties of the company’s board.

The coalition, including the $129.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, $68.7 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems and $138 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System, called for investors to withhold votes from Massey’s president and directors at the company’s May 18 annual meeting. Other coalition members are the $33.7 billion Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, the $31 billion New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the $10.4 billion Illinois State Board of Investment, Chicago. Collectively, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the others say they own $64 million worth of Massey stock, the AP reported.

Massey said in a statement: “We are disappointed when we learn of a shareholder vote to withhold, but respect the process to ensure good corporate governance.”

Following the explosion in early April, Massey shares lost about $820 million in market value over a two-day period. Massey said it expects Q2 losses of between $80 million and $150 million for costs related to the explosion, Global Pensions reported.

Massey’s premiere shareholders — Duquesne Capital, Wellington Management and State Street, all of which hold more than 5% apiece, BlackRock Financial Management with more than 8%, and Fidelity with a more than 9% stake — have not joined the opposition.

To contact the <em>aiCIO</em> editor of this story: Paula Vasan at <a href=''></a>; 646-308-2742