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Economy and Business

Is Timken's future as one company or two?
Shareholders will take up the question at the annual meeting tomorrow of the iconic company

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M.L. Schultze
Timken has occupied a significant part of Canton's industrial heart since it moved here from Cincinnati in 1901.
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In The Region:

Shareholders of the Timken Company will vote tomorrow on whether to force the split of one of Northeast Ohio’s oldest companies. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the argument that started with a group of institutional investors in California.

SCHULTZE: The battle over Timken's future

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SCHULTZE: An analyst's read

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Investors led by the second largest public pension fund in the country say Timken’s steel and bearing businesses are no longer compatible, and that steel should be spun off.

The California State Teachers Retirement System and a group called Relational Investors own more than 7 percent of Timken’s stock. Ann Sheehan, head of corporate guidance for what’s referred to as CalSTRS, says the split would boost the price of that stock and create two strong companies instead of one.

“They’re still going to have the same orders from their customers, including the bearings business; they will still have the operations. So there’s nothing in the separation that trickles down to the operation of the plants and of the businesses themselves. “

Among those disagreeing with Sheehan are the Timken Co. management and family, and the United Steelworkers, which has about 2,200 members working in Timken’s steel and bearings mills in Stark County. The international union has concerns about pensions and employment. But sub-district Director Dennis Brommer says there’s more.

“It’s not only about our members. It’s about this company, its future survival. And that’s what’s important to us. Everyone has their own opinion about this. Our opinion happens to be this would not be good for either our members or the Timken Co.”

Three firms that advise shareholders have weighed in on the proposal, two in favor of the split and one opposed.

Even if it loses the vote, the teachers’ pension fund and its allies is expected to nominate a slate of officers to the Timken board that would be more friendly to a split.

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