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Stillwater fight intensifies as senate race looms

By The Associated Press
Published On: Apr 27 2013 07:43:47 AM MDT
BILLINGS, Mont. -

 The struggle for control of Montana's largest publicly-traded company is turning increasingly bitter ahead of a May 2 shareholders' vote.
    
Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer and a team of dissident investors are sparring with Stillwater Mining executives over who could better lead the company.
    
The stakes for Schweitzer are high, complicated by his considering a run to replace U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.  Success would allow Schweitzer to launch a Senate campaign on a high note. Defeat could tarnish his much-touted business credentials.
    
Dueling campaigns to sway public opinion on Stillwater have included sharp personal attacks from both sides, and forced Stillwater Chairman Frank McAllister to return $2.3 million worth of company shares following a shareholder's lawsuit.
    
Stillwater employs 1,664 people and operates two precious metals mines in the Beartooth Mountains.