The Clinton Group, a hedge fund with a stake of slightly more than 1%, succeeded last night in electing four of its nominees to the board of Stillwater Mining Co. (NYSE: SWC). Among the group's elected nominees is Brian Schweitzer, a two-term governor of Montana, who left office in January as a result of term limits.
Stillwater's eight-person board will now be split evenly between four candidates loyal to chairman and CEO Frank McAllister and the four members supported by The Clinton Group. Prior to the election, the hedge fund had turned down an offer to accept four seats on Stillwater's board, and Schweitzer said that an even split offered "the worst governance you could imagine."
Following yesterday's vote, Schweitzer said that the election was a "huge victory." That's a good politician for you.
McAllister will remain chairman and CEO of the company, but expects a new CEO to be appointed at some unspecified future date. He also acknowledged that Stillwater's shareholders want the company to remain focused on its Montana operations.
The fight for control of Stillwater pitted Schweitzer and his side arguing that recent acquisitions in Argentina and Canada threatened the viability of Stillwater's Montana platinum and palladium operations. McAllister and his side countered that the hedge funders and the ex-governor wanted to take over the company for a song and had no idea how to run a mining business.
Schweitzer has now won three consecutive elections and most people think he is setting up to take a run at the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Max Baucus, who is not seeking re-election to a seventh term.
Stillwater's shares are up more than 4% today, at $12.55 in a 52-week range of $7.47 to $14.87.
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