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Bankrupt M.W. Sewall Restructures, Fires President

BATH, Maine -- Fuel company and Clipper Mart convenience store owner M.W. Sewall & Co., which is restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saw its president, Philip Sewall, fired from his post as of Feb. 5, and have a temporary restraining order granted against him, according to the company's Web site and a report by The Forecaster.

"The company continues to operate under the management team, who in turn report to Mark Stickney, the trustee," the company's Web site states. "Mark has experience in this industry and is actively working to restructure operations," part of which includes a request for proposals to purchase some or all of the company's assets, with the proceeds used to pay debts to creditors.

Family-owned M.W. Sewall sought bankruptcy protection in March 2009 and filed a reorganization plan. The company cited the poor economic climate as the reason it sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company's Web site states it has seen reductions in operating expenses and recent improvements in operating performance.

"The management team is optimistic and the company continues to improve service levels. Our Fuel and Convenience Store divisions are profitable. The company is actively disposing of non profitable, non core assets, such as excess real estate. There will be no service interruptions in our business," the Web site states.

It goes on to say "M. W. Sewall customers and employees are the first priority; success only comes with satisfied customers. … The company is working hard to honor the ongoing loyalty of its customer base."

Last week, a bankruptcy judge granted to restraining order, preventing the former president from taking a variety of actions connected to the Bath fuel company, the Forecaster reported. The action followed Stickney's accusation charging the president of alleged "mismanagement and self-dealing," and using proprietary M.W. Sewall information to establish a competing business, according to the report.

Stickney's investigation suggests Sewall was "breaching his fiduciary duty, he is engaged in self dealing to the detriment of the estate, and has, during his tenure as president, used his access to the estate's property and confidential and proprietary business information with the intention of setting up a competing company," he was quoted as saying in the Forecaster report.

Stickney also alleged Sewall "has been misappropriating the (company's) property, including confidential information, proprietary information, and trade secrets, and soliciting the (company's) employees to switch their affiliations from the (company) to Mr. Sewall's proposed new enterprise 'Sewall Energy,'" according to the report.

"Philip Sewall does not consent to the accuracy of the allegations," Sewall's attorney, Peter Cary, told the newspaper, and declined to comment further on the allegations.

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M.W. Sewall & Co. Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
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