By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
NEW YORK (Reuters) – PG&E Corp investor BlueMountain Capital Management LLC on Friday named 13 people it hopes to install as directors at the embattled power utility weeks after the company filed for bankruptcy in the wake of California’s catastrophic wildfires.
The hedge fund’s group of director nominees includes an expert in resolving victim claims, a former treasurer of the state of California, a prominent hedge fund manager, and people with banking and energy industry expertise.
BlueMountain, which owns roughly 8 million PG&E shares, in January announced plans for a proxy contest, criticizing the company for filing for Chapter 11 protection, a move it called unnecessary and harmful to investors.
The company and the hedge fund have been talking and last week agreed to extended the deadline to nominate directors to Friday.
PG&E said on Friday it has had a “constructive dialogue” with shareholders and stakeholders.
PG&E previously promised to make board changes, saying that only five of its current directors would stand for re-election at the May 21 annual meeting.
By offering to refresh its own board, PG&E could be trying to curry favor with big investors who may not be ready to back the hedge fund’s slate, analysts said.
BlueMountain’s slate includes former California Treasurer Phil Angelides who chaired the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to uncover the causes of the financial crisis and lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, known for administering compensation to victims including those of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Christopher Hart, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Jeffrey Ubben, who founded $15 billion San Francisco-based hedge fund ValueAct Capital and is now focusing on sustainability, and clean energy expert David Crane, a former chief executive at NRG Energy (NYSE:), are also on the list.
California business and civic leaders Marjorie Bowen, a former Houlihan Lokey banker, and Alvaro Aguirre, a former banker and lawyer who has managed several corporate turnarounds, were also named.
The group also includes Fred Buckman, Donald Chappel, Tanuja Dehne, Dick Rosenblum, Mark Lerdal and Barbara Lloyd.
With a new board and fresh oversight, the hedge fund forecasted that the company’s share price could trade at $50 in the future. It closed at $17.03 on Thursday.
PG&E faces crushing liabilities related to deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes.
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