Pensions to Withhold Votes From Massey Directors

After the tragedy at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, pension funds are calling on shareowners to withhold votes from three candidates for the company’s board of directors.

Posted by Matthew Keenan at May 14, 2010 at 14:41 PM

"In the wake of last month’s tragedy at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, the New York State Common Retirement Fund called on shareowners to withhold votes from three candidates for the company’s board of directors," SocialFunds.com reports. "The three -- Baxter F. Phillips, Richard M. Gabrys and Dan R. Moore -- also serve on the board’s safety, environmental and public policy committee."

"The disaster at Upper Big Branch, which claimed the lives of 29 miners, occurred in the aftermath of repeated environmental and safety violations by Massey, which led to at least two criminal convictions in the past three years. In addition, Massey has already reported that financial losses from Upper Big Branch could lead to losses of as much as $150 million."

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which discloses its votes with ProxyDemocracy, will withhold support from the three candidates. Another of our advance disclosers, the Florida State Board of Administration, won't back Gabrys.

Whether Massey's two major institutional shareholders, Fidelity Investments and BlackRock Inc., will side with the dissidents is unknown, according to Reuters. Both companies said "their voting policies were based on enhancing shareholder value," Reuters reported. Fidelity owns about 9.5 percent of Massey's common stock, while BlackRock holds just over 9 percent.

Massey's annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for May 18. Check here for more vote announcements or sign up for our e-mail alerts.