Britain's Audley Capital will nominate five candidates to the board of Walter Energy, arguing the coal-mining firm has “failed to deliver shareholder value” since its 2010 acquisition of Western Coal Corp.
Audley accuses Birmingham, Alabama-based Walter, which has been hit by slowing steelmaker demand for the metallurgical or “coking” coal it mines, of making questionable financial decisions, lacking consistent leadership and missing quarterly earnings targets.
In a statement it also accuses the coal-mining firm of having a “stale and out-of-depth board,” to redress which it is recommending its own slate of directors: Eddie Scholtz, formerly of BHP Billiton; Mark Lochtenberg, formerly the co-head of Glencore International's worldwide coal division; Robert Stan, a Canadian coal industry vet; Lawrence Clark, Jr., president and CEO of JW Resources; and Julian Treger, described as “one of the most experienced activists in the mining space.”
Walter Energy, in its own statement, said it was "committed to creating value for all shareholders through the successful execution of the company's strategy."
Audley was a major shareholder in Western Coal, selling a 19.8% stake in the company to Walter Energy in 2010.
Walter has yet to set a date for its 2013 annual meeting. It now has 10 board members—nine independent directors and its chief executive.