Stillwater Mining Co. said former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer will become chairman of the largest public company in his home state, taking over the role from Chief Executive Officer Frank McAllister.
McAllister, 70, will continue as CEO until the board finds a suitable candidate to replace him, the Billings, Montana-based palladium miner said in a statement today. McAllister has been chairman and CEO since 2001.
Schweitzer is one of four Clinton Group Inc. nominees voted onto the board of Stillwater on May 2. The activist investor has cited a declining stock price in calling for McAllister’s retirement, cost-cutting and the sale of a mining project in Argentina.
Schweitzer, who stepped down as governor in January after serving the maximum two terms, has said he became skeptical of Stillwater management after it bought Vancouver-based Peregrine Metals Ltd. in 2011 for $262.9 million. The purchase gave Stillwater a copper and gold project in Argentina that might take as much as $2.5 billion to develop. The stock fell 22 percent on the day the deal was announced.
Clinton and Schweitzer want Stillwater to focus on its palladium mining in Montana and reconsider a diversification strategy that has also included buying Marathon PGM Corp. for C$134.7 million ($131 million) in 2010 to gain a project in Ontario.