Big company gobbles Amvest jobs
Not since 1995, when Thomas E. Worrell, the father of local musician Shannon Worrell Chapman, sold the Daily Progress and 28 other newspapers for $230 million, has a single transaction generated so many millions. But today it was announced that much of Amvest, the energy company built up by the late benefactor of UVA's Scott Stadium and head evicter of the Pep Band, Carl Smith, will be sold for $335 million to a publicly held energy coal company.
Amvest, currently headquartered at 1 Boars Head Pointe, a tranquil pond-front structure near the Boar's Head Inn, has its base of operations in the vicinity of uber-rural Wise County, where Smith grew up. The buyer is Consol Energy, the largest coal producer east of the Mississippi River, with annual sales of about $3.7 billion. Included in the sale is an 18-mile railroad, a subsidiary that Amvest owns out in the coalfields of Nicholas County, West Virginia.
Not included in the sale are Amvest's gas operations, the Charlottesville headquarters, and, as 50-60 employees have just discovered: the Charlottesville jobs.
"Our company does not have a need to retain anyone in Charlottesville, pretty as it is," says Consol spokesperson Thomas Hoffman. "Those who work in Charlottesville have been informed today that they will not be offered positions in Consol."
Hoffman was unable to say what will happen to the Charlottesville employees, and Amvest was not immediately able to provide a spokesperson.
Besides being an "extremely well-run company" with no debt, Amvest's coal assets were particularly attractive, says Hoffman, noting that they include Vaughan Railroad Company, an 18-mile West Virginia line that will give Consol a chance to move its fossil fuel.
"That has great value to us," says Hoffman. "Building transportation infrastructure is not easy today."
Smith (UVA '52) was a football star whose passion for business emerged only, he revealed in a 2000 interview, while struggling through a UVA economics class. Before his mammoth $25 million donation toward the $100 million Scott Stadium overhaul, he and his wife, Hunter, had contributed to UVA's schools of architecture, law, business, and medicine, as well as the Children's Medical Center and the Jefferson Scholars Program. The Smiths once planned to build a theater at the corner of Ivy and Emmet Streets, but about a year after Smith's December, 2005 death, that pledge "expired."