BY BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — An aluminum company planning to build a $1.7 billion plant in Appalachia has settled a lawsuit filed by its founder after his ouster as CEO, which came at a crucial time as the company tries to wrap up financing for the massive mill project.
As part of the settlement, Braidy Industries Inc. founder Craig Bouchard severed his ties with the company, Braidy said in a statement. Bouchard stepped down from the company’s board of directors and is no longer involved with the company in any capacity, it said.
Other terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
The company said Wednesday that it’s closer “than ever before” to finalizing financing for the planned mill in northeastern Kentucky, but did not offer immediate specifics.
In February, Bouchard sued Braidy and several of its stockholders in fighting back against his ouster, shedding light on a power struggle within the company.
Bouchard claimed several defendants breached their obligations under a company voting agreement after refusing his efforts to remove four executives from Braidy’s board.
Bouchard was removed as CEO in a management shakeup in late January. He filed suit in Delaware, where the company is incorporated. The lawsuit said his ouster by the company’s board came “without notice or explanation.”
The company has said it was displeased with the “status of financing” for the planned mill and had other concerns about Bouchard’s performance as CEO.
The new plant is projected to create more than 1,000 constructions jobs, 550 full-time mill jobs and thousands of indirect jobs in the region, Braidy said.
In announcing the settlement Tuesday, Braidy said company leaders look forward to building on the foundation Bouchard set and “bringing his vision to fruition.”
“The settlement marks a path forward for Braidy’s promising business model by removing any litigation-focused marketplace concerns and allowing the Braidy board of directors and Ashland leadership team to accelerate plans to build the world’s most technologically advanced aluminum rolling mill at a time when global capacity is significantly constrained,” its statement said.
Attorneys for Bouchard did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
Kentucky taxpayers have a direct stake in Braidy’s plans to build the aluminum rolling mill near Ashland, Kentucky. Former Gov. Matt Bevin persuaded Kentucky lawmakers to approve a $15 million state investment in the project.
Braidy’s new chief executive told a state legislative panel earlier this year that the company still needed to raise $500 million in equity for the mill project.
On Wednesday, Braidy spokeswoman Kaylee Carnahan Price said the company is “fully focused on the job at hand — finalizing fundraising and building the mill.”
“The company is closer today to finalizing financing and constructing the mill than ever before,” she said. “Over the last several months, the team has worked extremely hard to bring this mill to fruition, and the work is paying off.”