LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Braidy Industries founder Craig Bouchard took to Facebook early Saturday to challenge what he called “the sudden and unexplained” decision on Tuesday by the board of directors he handpicked to remove him as the company’s chairman and CEO.
Bouchard attributed the spat to a disagreement over potential sources of financing for the $1.7 billion aluminum rolling mill that Braidy Industries plans to build outside of Ashland, Ky., a project that he and others have heralded as the beginning of “rebuilding Appalachia.”
“The genesis of the disagreement is my pursuit of foreign strategic partners representing patient capital that will stay with us for generations,” Bouchard wrote on Facebook. “Some of the directors want a focus on finding American private equity investment. These PE (private equity) investors desire a 200% return and a sale in 3-5 years. They don’t like greenfield projects and don’t particularly care about Appalachia.”
The company disputed Bouchard’s claims, while declining to get into the details.
“The former CEO is making inaccurate assertions that do not reflect the actions taken by the board this week,” Braidy Industries said on Saturday in a statement relayed through a public relations agency.
Bouchard suggested he may pursue a legal challenge to the board’s action, which he said "is without basis and, if allowed to stand, threatens significant damage to Braidy Industries, its stockholders and the Ashland community.
“I have certain contractual rights as a major stockholder of Braidy Industries, and I am evaluating my options in light of them,” he said in the Facebook post.
Braidy Industries’ public disclosures – documents dated as recently as July 2019 – say Bouchard controls the selection of the company’s board members through an investors rights agreement.
Kentucky taxpayers own about 15% of the company’s outstanding shares as a result of a $15 million investment to help land the project in the Bluegrass State in 2017.
Bouchard didn’t disclose which foreign investors might be interested in Braidy Industries.
The company has already attracted one major foreign investor, Russian aluminum giant Rusal, which pledged $200 million to the Ashland project if Braidy Industries get the rest of the financing.
Bouchard previously led a conglomerate called Real Industry until 2016, when, as he told WDRB in November, he had a disagreement with that company’s board of directors and left. Real Industry filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018.