Catalyst Paper Corporation announced that it has accepted the resignations of its two executives Russell J. Horner, president and chief executive officer, and Ralph Leverton, vice-president, finance and chief financial officer.
The announcement of the departures follow the company's partial takeover by an American hedge fund, Third Avenue Management LLC. Last October, Third Avenue acquired approximately 18% of Catalyst's common shares for $128.7 million cash, raising its stake to about 38%.
This purchase invalidated an agreement between Horner and the company limiting change of control to 25%.
An executive search is underway to identify their successors and both executives have agreed to remain with the company to the end of the next annual meeting of shareholders to assist in the transition. “We appreciate their loyalty, dedication and willingness to facilitate a smooth transition as the board completes its selection of new executives who will build on the fundamental strengths of the business.” Catalyst said in a press release.Horner has been with Catalyst and its predecessor companies for more than 30 years. He will receive pension benefits of almost 5 million. Leverton, who has been with the company for seven years will take a $1.6-million payment.
"The stock was drifting lower and lower," said an investor, "Here was an investor from the U.S. with a good track record taking an interest in Catalyst. They obviously weren't doing this without a plan as to how to turn the company's fortunes around.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Third Avenue had a management team or a number of individuals that they shortlisted for key executive positions before they started investing in the company. If your hockey team isn't doing well, you replace the coach."
On the TSX on Monday, Catalyst's stock closed at $4.15, up 1%, before the changes were announced. When Third Avenue completed its bid to gain 38% of Catalyst in October, the stock was trading at $3.30. "The stock has come up some 25 per cent," said the trader "So if you were a shareholder at that time, you are definitely going to support Third Avenue because now the share price is going in the right direction.