Embattled PG&E to expand board to 15 directors

PG&E is facing crushing liabilities following deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018 which killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes.

In a development that resolves a months long battle with activist shareholder BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, California utility owner PG&E Corp stated, it has agreed to a deal which sees a safety adviser and a new independent director sitting on its board.

In March, New York-based hedge fund BlueMountain had selected thirteen candidates for directorship in PG&E after slamming the PG&E Corp for seeking bankruptcy protection.

As part of the agreement, BlueMountain will withdraw its nominee slate of thirteen candidates and vote in favor of PG&E’s board nominees at the meeting, said the embattled power utility in a statement.

According to PG&E’s statement, it has appointed Fred Buckman, Consumers Energy and PacifiCorp’s former chief executive officer, as an independent director, effective immediately; Christopher Hart, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, has also been appointed as a special independent safety adviser.

Buckman replaces Richard Kelly, who has resigned as a director.

Buckman and Hart, nominated by BlueMountain, will serve the same roles at PG&E’s subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

In a statement PG&E stated, it will propose to increase the maximum size of PG&E’s board to fifteen directors; they will be voted on at its annual meeting of shareholders.

“We believe the changes and other undertakings announced today reflect the boards’ commitment to improving their governance and oversight,” said Andrew Feldstein, BlueMountain’s Chief Investment Officer, in a statement.

In January 2019, PG&E had filed for bankruptcy after it faces crushing liabilities related to deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes.

PG&E has also recently hired Bill Johnson as its CEO, following a group of investors, including Knighthead Capital Management, Redwood Capital Management and Abrams Capital Management, pushing for his appointment.

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