Sunday, April 13, 2003

What's the buzz?

Shareholders boo DPL execs

Talk about disgust.

DPL Inc. shareholders upset about the company's investments criticized and booed executives at an annual meeting.

A large crowd of mostly senior citizens filled a school auditorium last week in Fort Recovery, Ohio - about 65 miles northwest of Dayton - to pepper officials with questions about the company's $1 billion investment portfolio and executives' pay.

DPL chairman Peter Forster and chief executive Stephen Koziar defended the company's investments and said DPL is in sound financial shape.

Koziar said the company is committed to maintaining its 94-cent dividend, which is important for retirees with fixed incomes.

DPL is the parent of Dayton Power and Light Co., which serves 500,000 customers in western Ohio.

Shareholders raised questions about $940,000 that Forster received in bonuses in 2002, the company's two private jets and DPL's openness about its investments. They criticized the structure of DPL's investment portfolio, which is managed by 27 firms and spread across 500 companies.

Robert Maxey, 53, a shareholder from Alexandria, Va., circulated a shareholder proposal that called for a new slate of directors in 2004; a hold on all salary increases and bonuses until DPL's performance improves; and an end to DPL's relationship with New York investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., which bought 20 percent of DPL in a deal in 2000.

After the meeting, Maxey called DPL's presentation a "snow job."

"They didn't give us any information in there," he said.

DPL faces 11 shareholder lawsuits stemming from revelations about the portfolio. In July, DPL announced a $155 million pretax write-down in its financial assets caused by bad Latin American investments. DPL subsequently reported a quarterly loss, and its stock has since fallen by half to about $13.

The Associated Press

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