Under the Dome

Cowell, other investors withhold votes for mine company directors

State Treasurer Janet Cowell and eight other leaders of large, institutional investors are trying to oust directors of the company that owns a West Virginia mine where 29 miners were killed in an explosion last month.

Cowell, who oversees the state pension fund, and the other investors released a letter (click below) today highlighting Massey Energy's "repeated and serious" safety violations. They asked shareholders to withhold support for three directors for failing to carry out their duties on the company board's safety, environment and public policy committee. The three are up for reelection at the company's May 18 shareholder's meeting.

"Massey Energy has an extensive history of persistent and serious safety violations," Cowell said in a prepared statement. "Ultimately, that has consequences for long-term shareholder value."

Massey's stock has lost $975 million since the April 5 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine.

The investor coalition collectively owns 1.4 million shares of Massey Energy valued at over $64 million. The N.C. Retirement System owns 385,000 shares valued at $17.4 million as of April 15, 2010, according to Melissa Waller, Cowell's communications director.

The other members of the coalition are: California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Office of Connecticut State Treasurer, Illinois State Board of Investment, Maryland State Pension and Retirement System, New York State Controller, New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Oregon State Treasury, and Pennsylvania Treasury.


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