N.Y. Hedge Fund, Ex-Montana Gov. Take On Mining Co.

Feb 27 2013 | 11:33am ET

Hedge fund Clinton Group has enlisted Montana's popular former governor in its fight with a mining company.

New York-based Clinton told Stillwater Mining Co., Montana's largest public company, that it will nominate eight people to serve on its nine-member board of directors, including former Gov. Brian Schweitzer. The hedge fund said that Stillwater's "stock has performed poorly in the last couple of years and is significantly undervalued today," and that "change is needed," including the exit of its chairman and CEO and the abandonment of a mining project in Argentina.

"The only board of directors that is doing worse is the U.S. Congress," Schweitzer, a Democrat who left office last month after eight years, told Bloomberg News. "Clinton Group is trying to protect shareholder value, and I am too. But I'm also trying to protect this unique asset that we have in Montana."

Schweitzer added that he's concerned that Stillwater, which has invested more than $500 million in projects in Canada and Argentina, will go the way of Anaconda Copper Mining Co., which collapsed in the 1980s after investing in Chile.

"We've had our belly-full in Montana of good Montana-based mining companies throwing the long ball in South America," he said.

Stillwater's annual meeting is set for May.

Schweitzer is seen as a dark-horse presidential candidate in 2016 and a possible candidate for Senate from Montana next year.

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