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An iron ore pellet plant in Quebec previously owned by Cliffs Natural Resources. Cliffs’ board of directors named Lourenco Goncalves as chairman, president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. (CLIFF NATURAL RESOURCES HANDOUT)
An iron ore pellet plant in Quebec previously owned by Cliffs Natural Resources. Cliffs’ board of directors named Lourenco Goncalves as chairman, president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. (CLIFF NATURAL RESOURCES HANDOUT)

Cliffs Natural appoints new chairman, CEO after proxy battle Add to ...

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, an iron ore and coal producer, said on Thursday that Lourenco Goncalves, a former steel company executive, was named to run the company after activist investor Casablanca Capital triumphed in a proxy battle.

The Cliffs board of directors named Goncalves as chairman, president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.

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Goncalves was the preferred CEO candidate of Casablanca, the hedge fund investor that last week succeeded in getting a majority of its nominees appointed to the board.

Goncalves, a former CEO of Metals USA Holdings Corp, a manufacturer of steel and other metals, said in a statement he intended to refocus Cliffs “on a new strategic path” that builds on its strengths.

Analysts said Goncalves could pursue the sale of three of the company’s four operating segments: its Asia-Pacific iron ore business, its eastern Canadian iron ore operations and North American coal unit.

In an interview with Reuters in February, Goncalves said he would focus on supplying iron ore to steel makers in the United States, not selling into the competitive global iron ore market, if he became Cliffs CEO.

New York-Casablanca, which has a 5.2 per cent stake in Cliffs, claimed the company was destroying shareholder value. Cliffs shares have fallen about 85 per cent in the past three years, at a time when iron ore and coal prices have plunged.

Goncalves replaces Jim Kirsch as chairman and Gary Halverson as CEO of Cliffs, which produces iron ore and metallurgical coal in the United States, Canada and Asia.

On Thursday, Cliffs shares were dipped 0.1 per cent at $17.13 (U.S.) on the New York Stock Exchange.

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