Make us your home page

Walter Energy proposes $3.2B acquisition; timing to close Tampa HQ still unclear

Coal producer Walter Energy is a company in flux. It's run by an interim CEO and is in a prolonged process of relocating its headquarters from Tampa to Birmingham, Ala., with executives working out of both locations.

Yet in revealing a proposal Thursday to buy Western Coal Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, for $3.2 billion — a deal that would near double the company's production capability — Walter sent a clear message that interim doesn't mean inactive.

Walter offered to acquire Western Coal's outstanding stock for $11.50 in Canadian dollars per share in cash and company stock. Western Coal agreed to work exclusively with Walter over 14 days to try to come to terms. Separately, Walter also agreed to pay affiliates of Audley Capital about $615 million ($630 million Canadian) for their 19.8 percent stake in the Canadian company.

The combined company would control 385 million tons of coal reserves and be well-positioned for future acquisitions, according to Walter's interim chief executive, Joe Leonard.

"From a strategic perspective, a transaction with Western Coal would be transformational for our company," Leonard said in a statement.

Some analysts were surprised by the news given Walter's caretaker leadership.

"This is an aggressive move. Clearly they want to be a buyer instead of a seller," Avondale Partners analyst Daniel Mannes said.

The announcement did little to clarify two issues: when Walter will name a new chief executive and when Birmingham will become its official headquarters, initially forecast to occur in early 2010.

Walter spokesman Michael Monahan, who relocated to Birmingham two months ago, said nearly all employees who planned to move from Tampa have already done so. There are currently about 100 employees in Birmingham and a skeleton staff of a couple of dozen left in Tampa, Monahan said.

"People are having their last days all the time there," he said.

Nevertheless, he refused to set a timetable for a Tampa pullout or even say if it would happen by year's end.

Earlier, Leonard told investors that the timing of a corporate relocation would be left open if it would help identify and recruit a permanent candidate to replace him. Thursday's announcement "may have an impact on the timing" for naming a CEO as well, Monahan said, without being more specific.

Shares in Walter closed Thursday at $96.86, up $2.15 or 2 percent.

Times wires contributed to this report. Jeff Harrington can be reached at

Walter Energy proposes $3.2B acquisition; timing to close Tampa HQ still unclear 11/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 9:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Foundation Partners buys Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home


    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.

    Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation


    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  4. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  5. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion


    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]