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Feud at Atchison company ends

Published on -12/4/2013, 12:50 PM

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ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) -- A battle for control of MGP Ingredients in Atchison apparently has ended, with an agreement to oust the CEO and drop all lawsuits filed by feuding board members, the company announced.

The company said in a statement Tuesday that CEO Tim Newkirk "has been terminated without cause" and two other executives will be co-CEOs until a replacement can be found.

The power struggle began in May, when six board members and Newkirk announced they wanted to review strategic options, which often leads to a merger or sale of the company or parts of a business. Two other board members, Cloud Cray Jr. and Karen Seaberg, opposed that plan. Cray and Seaberg are descendants of the company's founder and represent the Cray Voting Trust, which has more than 90 percent of preferred stock and almost 30 percent of common stock.

The Cray group contended that selling all or part of the company was not in the stockholders' best interests.

The fight had raised concerns in Atchison, where MGP is a major employer in the northeast Kansas town and a source of philanthropy.

The deal announced Tuesday requires both sides to drop all lawsuits and limits the potential sale or purchases of corporate assets for the next year without the approval of at least six board members. And a long-delayed shareholders meeting will be held Dec. 17.

"Finally, after almost seven months, the board is all in agreement that this is the direction, and we're really glad it's done," Seaberg told The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1cWMKkJ ).

MGP Ingredients produces specialty wheat proteins and starches for food and other applications, along with distillery products such as food-grade alcohol.

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