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Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2001

Shareholders eye lawsuit over company’s stock drop

June 28, 2001

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— A Topeka lawyer has confirmed that some Western Resources Inc. shareholders are consulting attorneys about whether they can sue the company because its stock isn't worth as much as it once was.

That information became public as the Kansas Corporation Commission reviewed Western's plans for a corporate restructuring. Western hopes to split its electric utility operations from other businesses.

Western's other business interests include the financially troubled Protection One security firm, which has not made an annual net profit since Western became its majority owner in November 1997.

Attorney Dan Lykins, of Topeka, said he is working with a New York law firm to determine whether shareholders have cause to sue Western's management and board of directors for decisions that led to a significant drop in the value of the company's stock during the past three years.

"We think that some of their actions have been completely unreasonable," Lykins said. "It's obvious that stockholders have suffered a tremendous loss of value."

Between the spring of 1998 and the summer of 2000, Western's stock dropped in value from $42 to $15. In after-hours trading Wednesday on the New York stock exchange, the price was $22.24, up 39 cents.

Lykins declined to name the New York firm, but said it specializes in shareholder lawsuits. He said a decision would be made by early August.

Western spokeswoman Kim Gronniger said the company couldn't respond to a complaint that hadn't been filed.

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