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Gas Natural, ousted CEO reach settlement after multiyear conflict

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Gas Natural, ousted CEO reach settlement after multiyear conflict

Gas NaturalInc. reached a settlement with its embittered former CEO andchairman, the utility company said July 14.

Ousted leader Richard Osborne agreed to for Gas Natural's boardof directors, along with the bids of his fellow nominees. Osborne's six-member "committeeto re-energize Gas Natural" announced in May their plan to andsought shareholder support.

Gas Natural, Osborne and related organizations also agreedto dismiss nine pending proceedingsand addressed all of the open lawsuits among them.

Starting in 2014, Osborne filed, withdrew and refiled lawsuits against the company and its boardmembers. He alleged that the board breached it its fiduciary duties by removinghim from his position in the company.

Osborne was removedfrom the company by his board and son, Gregory, in 2014, after Gas Natural cameunder heavy scrutiny from Ohio state regulators. Investigations and audits ofthe company unveiled a host of questionable and illicit business practices,included near-non-existent ring fencing provisions, records doctoring andovercharging customers for gas.

"Achieving this settlement is in the best interests ofall of our stakeholders, and brings finality to costly and time-consuminglitigation that has burdened the company these last two years," GregoryOsborne, the company's CEO, said in a July 14 statement. "Having thesenon-operating matters behind us allows us to focus on our business, execute ourgrowth strategy and drive shareholder value. We also expect to see improvedfinancial results once the costs of all these matters are behind us."