MGP Ingredients ousts CEO, settles with shareholder group [The Kansas City Star]
(Kansas City Star (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 04--The corporate battle that has engulfed MGP Ingredients Inc. for most of the year has ended with the departure of its chief executive officer.
Tim Newkirk "has been terminated without cause," a statement from the Atchison, Kan.-based distilled products company said Tuesday.
His exit was part of an agreement between the company's board of directors and MGP's founding Cray family, which still has a substantial ownership stake in the publicly traded business.
The deal requires both sides to drop lawsuits they had brought and contains language that limits potential sales or purchases of corporate assets.
"Finally, after almost seven months, the board is all in agreement that this is the direction, and we're really glad its done," said Karen Seaberg, a director and Cray family member.
The company named two other executives to serve as co-chief executive officer while a search for Newkirk's replacement takes place. They are Don Tracy, chief financial officer, and Randy Schrick, vice president of engineering.
MGP said the settlement set Dec. 17 to reconvene the company's shareholders meeting, which originally had been set in late May but was twice suspended during the dispute. MGP shareholders as of April 3 will be eligible to vote at the December meeting, the company said.
Shareholders will vote on two candidates for the board seat currently held by chairman John Speirs, whom the company had renominated. The Cray family had nominated beverage alcohol industry veteran John Bridendall, whom early tallies showed would win the seat.
John Byom, a director elected directly by shares controlled by the Cray family, has withdrawn his name for re-election. The family had nominated Kansas City businesswoman Jeannine Strandjord for the seat.
The battle pitted the Cray family, led by Seaberg and her father Cloud L. "Bud" Cray Jr. who also is a board member, against Newkirk and other members of the company's board.
Seaberg had raised concerns that Newkirk and other directors had plans to sell the company or key parts of its operations.
"Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the company and the board have also agreed that the company will not sell any assets, will not make any acquisitions of other companies or assets, and will not enter into any joint venture relationships of a material nature or outside of the ordinary course of business in the next 12 months without the approval of at least six members of the board," the announcement said.
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