Hearings to determine the future owner of WCI will resume August 30.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
WARREN -- James L. Wareham, the former president of AK Steel and a 41-year steel industry veteran, is waiting in the wings to take the helm at WCI Steel if a group of bondholders gets to own the company.
The creditor group embroiled in a court battle to win WCI away from its New York owner Renco Group filed a list of its initial board of directors this week in United States Bankruptcy Court, Akron.
Prospective buyers in a bankruptcy case are required to name directors and officers as evidence that they are serious about operating the company.
WCI and Renco listed current executives and officers in the listing they filed with the court, their attorney G. Christopher Meyer said, because the company will make few leadership changes if they retain ownership.
Wareham, who retired from AK Steel in Middletown, Ohio, in March 2002, would serve as chief executive and a member of the board of directors under a bondholder-owned WCI Steel. Wareham also served as president and CEO of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel in the 1990s.
Thomas Moers Mayer, legal counsel for the bondholders in WCI's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, said Wareham's appointment is still subject to a compensation agreement.
Another veteran metals industry executive, Cynthia Bezic, the former chief executive of Cleveland Cliffs, has signed on to be chief financial officer under a bondholder-owned WCI. Headquartered in Cleveland, Cleveland Cliffs calls itself the largest producer of iron ore pellets in North America.
Bezic is excited about the position, in part, because she has family in the Warren area, Moers Mayer said. Her appointment, too, is subject to a compensation agreement.
The bondholders, who hold $327 million of WCI's bonds secured by the company's plant, equipment and property, also released the names of five other board members, in addition to Wareham.
Others on the list are:
UEugene Davis, chairman and CEO of Pirinate Consulting Group, LLC, a privately held consulting firm specializing in crisis and turn-around management.
UNeal X. Trangucci, founder of WPN Corp., manager of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and its public holding company, WHX.
UGerald E. Morris, president and CEO of Intalite International N.V., a multinational manufacturer of metal ceilings for commercial buildings, and president of Harrington Brothers, a maker and installer of commercial heating and air conditioning systems.
UMark Henkels, managing director and head of industrial growth and services for CIBC World Markets.
UTimothy J. Bernlohr, president and CEO of RBX Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of closed cell rubber and plastic foam materials.
WCI and the bondholders both reserved a seventh spot on their board of directors lists for a representative of the Unites Steelworkers of America, which represents 1,330 hourly workers at WCI.
Hearing to resume
In a related matter, WCI attorney Meyer said plan confirmation hearings adjourned Wednesday will resume August 30 in United States Bankruptcy Court, Akron and will likely continue through that week.
Bankruptcy Judge Marilyn Shea-Stonum, who is hearing the case, agreed to postpone hearings set for Thursday and today because attorneys for WCI and the bondholders said they needed more time to prepare and present their cases.