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National Fuel Gas Co. adjourned a special shareholders meeting in New York City on Wednesday that had been called to vote on proposed changes in the company's incentive compensation plans until next month.

While about two-thirds of National Fuel's shareholders had submitted their votes on the proposals, company officials said last week's terrorist hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center had prevented the company from obtaining and counting all of the votes.

"We do know that votes were delayed and lost," said Philip Ackerman, National Fuel's president, who also was named Wednesday to succeed the retiring Bernard J. Kennedy as the Buffalo-based energy company's chief executive officer on Oct. 1.

Ackerman said the proposals, which are designed to ease some of the recent volatility in the company's earnings by converting stock appreciation rights previously issued to top executives into more conventional stock options, would have passed by an "overwhelming majority," based on the votes received so far. The change would not alter the value of those stock-based incentives.

The recent volatility in the stock market also contributed to the decision to adjourn the meeting for another month, Kennedy said.

The special meeting has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 16 in the offices of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & Macrae, a New York City law firm.

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