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Published: Thursday, 6/21/2007

Investors for coking plant still a mystery

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FDS Coke Plant LLC, which also has gone by the name U.S. Coking Group LLC, has identified some of the parties it has hired to work on technical aspects of its proposed $800 million project for East Toledo and Oregon.

But company representatives remain tight-lipped about investors.

"Some backers want to be private. We have confidentiality agreements in place," said Lance Traves, the project manager and environmental consultant.

The comment was made to 40 people who attended Tuesday night's hour-long meeting in which FDS' plans were unveiled for a $100 million steam-generated power plant.

During a recess at the same meeting, Mr. Traves said that FDS does not plan to disclose ownership details, including percentages.

Several area residents have expressed frustration about the policy of confidentiality.

Oregon City Councilman Sandy Bihn, an environmental activist and opponent of the proposed coking plant, has said the lack of investor information is galling to her during this era of heightened domestic security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

FDS identified itself Tuesday night as the project development company. It said it was founded by Detroit businessman Frank Stella; Michael Cicak, a retired executive of several Toledo-area businesses, and businessman William Mitchell.

No further information was provided about the trio of founders or their degree of investment.

The company disclosed this much about its operations Tuesday night:

•Uhde Corp. of America, a wholly owned subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Technologies of Germany, will oversee the project's heat-recovery operations.

•The Oscar Boldt Co., of Appleton, Wis., which is bonded for $1 billion, has been hired as the general contractor.

•Power Engineers Collaborative LLC, of Chicago will design the engineering of the co-generation facility - that is, the steam power plant.

•Merrill Lynch is FDS' financial adviser.

•Bell, Boyd & Lloyd of Chicago is the group's legal adviser.

•The Labyrinth Management Group of Medina, Ohio, which employs Mr. Traves, is in charge of applying for the power plant's permit from the Ohio Power Siting Board. It also serves as the FDS environmental consulting firm.

Records show FDS was registered by the state of Delaware as a limited liability corporation on March 17, 2004. Like other businesses, it can be registered in another state and do business in Ohio.

The Ohio Secretary of State's Office does not have the power to require investor information. It could, though, if such a law were passed by the state legislature, officials have said.

The Delaware Department of State's Division of Corporations does not require investor information or annual reports from limited liability corporations.

FDS holds a 2004 permit to build the coking facility. Gov. Ted Strickland has announced plans to sign into law a budget amendment this month, if approved by the legislature, that would give the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency power to modify the 2004 permit while it remains under appeal by the village of Harbor View and the Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club.

Former Harbor View Mayor Carl Stanoyevic yesterday said he fears his community is "going to eat dust that is just unbelievable" if the coking facility is built.

FDS officials have promised to build the nation's cleanest coking facility.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and Oregon Mayor Marge Brown support the project, as do several area legislators.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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