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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Shareholders of Alpha Natural Resources and Massey Energy have approved the $8.5 billion deal for Alpha to acquire Massey in what has become one of the more controversial coal industry transactions in years.
"At their respective special meetings of stockholders, Massey stockholders voted to adopt the merger agreement," Alpha said in a statement, "and Alpha stockholders voted to approve an amendment to Alpha's certificate of incorporation to increase the number of shares of common stock that Alpha is authorized to issue and also voted to approve the issuance of shares of Alpha common stock to stockholders of Massey."
Alpha and Massey expect to close the transaction later today.
Many shareholders had likely already cast ballots through the mail, though the companies scheduled simultaneous shareholder meetings at a Marriott resort in Kingsport, Tenn., near Alpha's Abingdon, Va., corporate headquarters.
Shareholder meetings were being held just one day after courts in West Virginia and Delaware declined requests from some ownership groups to block the sale over allegations the deal undervalues Massey and was pushed through by Massey management to insulate themselves from liability for the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.
"Admittedly, there is a basis to conclude that the Massey board perceived that the company's ability to prosper independently was impaired by its questionable reputation for worker and environmental safety, and that the best way to secure value was to sell the company at a premium to an industry rival with a better reputation in those areas," Vice Chancellor Leo Strine Jr., a judge in Delaware's business court, wrote in a 79-page ruling issued Tuesday. "But the record does not suggest that it is likely that the merger was inspired solely, or even in any material way, by a desire of the Massey directors ... to insulate themselves from liability."
The deal gives Alpha the second largest private coal reserve in America, with about 5 billion tons. The company would become one of the top suppliers of steel-making coal in the world.
Combined with Massey, Alpha will operate about 150 coal mines and 40 preparation plants, more than any other U.S. coal company. The company would employ 14,000 people, including about 7,000 in West Virginia.
Last year, Alpha produced about 82 million tons of coal, with more than half of it coming from the company's two huge surface mines in Wyoming. Massey produced about 37 million tons of coal in 2010, with two-thirds of that being mined in West Virginia.