Walter Hires New IRO Amid Call For Sale

Walter Energy has brought in a new head of investor relations as the company attempts to deal with the resignation of its CEO and the call from one shareholder to sell itself.

The metallurgic coal producer has hired experienced IR practitioner Paul Blalock to be the company’s primary contact for the investment community. He joins from Clearwire where he has been vice president of IR since 2010.

Prior to Clearwire, Blalock was senior vice president of IR at Sirius Satellite Radio. He also spent 10 years as a vice president of IR at Nextel Communications from 1995 to 2005.

Walter Energy has been on the back foot since June when chief executive Keith Calder announced he would stand down on August 1 due to ‘differences of opinion concerning management philosophy’.

That prompted Audley Capital Advisors, an activist investment firm based in London, to call for the company to sell itself. In a letter to management, Audley said, in the absence of strong leadership, the company’s discount to fair value would be best addressed through a sale.

Late last year, Audley’s co-founder Julian Treger helped broker Walter Energy’s $3.3 bn acquisition of Western Coal, where Calder was CEO at the time. He took charge of Walter Energy after the sale.

Walter Energy has issued a statement acknowledging the letter from Audley, in which it welcomes ‘constructive dialogue’ with shareholders, while emphasising the credentials of its executive team.

[Article by Tim Human, Inside Investor Relations]

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