UK Pension Protection Fund chief quits controversial mine firm

PPF’s Judge resigns from Massey Energy board.

Lady Barbara Judge, the newly named chairman of the Pension Protection Fund, the UK’s lifeboat for defined benefit pension schemes, has abruptly quit her directorship at controversial US mining company Massey Energy Co.
Massey has faced a barrage of criticism over its safety record since an explosion at its Upper Big Branch facility in West Virginia claimed 29 miners’ lives earlier this month. Judge chaired Massey’s board committee for governance and sat on the finance, environmental, safety and public policy committees. She had been a non-executive director of the company since February 2008.
Massey said in a regulatory filing yesterday that Judge had resigned with immediate effect, citing the “demands related to other on-going business activities and not due to any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practices”.
Shareholders had complained Judge could not devote enough time to the role at Massey due to her multiple other commitments such as the chairmanship of the School of Oriental and African Studies and the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority.The Wall Street Journal said support for Judge’s re-election as director was withheld by 59% of shareholder votes – the most opposition to any director in the S&P500 last year. The Pension Protection Fund’s own voting and engagement provider, F&C Investments, opposed her election.
In the wake of the disaster, investors including the New York Common Retirement Fund and the union-affiliated, CtW Investments, called for Massey’s chairman and chief executive Don Blankenship to resign.
Massey has recommended that shareholders vote against proposals covering water management, greenhouse gas emissions and director elections at its forthcoming annual general meeting set for May 18.
Judge is a former deputy chair of Friends’ Provident and non-executive director of United Asset Management. Her appointment to the PPF – which starts on July 1 – will be for an initial period of three years. She will receive a salary of £60,000 (€68,500) for two days per week.
President Obama will deliver a eulogy on Sunday to the 29 miners killed in the West Virginia blast.