Cliff's Natural Resources Board taken over by hedge fund

By KBJR News 1

July 29, 2014 Updated Jul 31, 2014 at 1:30 PM CDT

Cleavland, OH (NNCNOW.com) -- A change in board members is on the horizon for Cliff's Natural Resources, which could dramatically impact operations for the iron ore mining company.

Casablanca Capital, an investment manager based in New York, took hold of Cliff's Board of Directors at the mining company's annual board meeting on Tuesday.

Six of Casablanca's nominees were elected to the Cliff's 11 member board of directors, this is according to preliminary estimates.

With these new members, the board will consist of six nominees from Casablanca and five nominees from Cliffs.

Casablanca already owns about 5.2 percent of Cliff's shares.

Donald Drapkin, Chairman of Casablanca, said in a statement, “We are grateful to our fellow Cliffs shareholders for their careful consideration of the issues and gratified that they have sent a resounding message of support for our efforts to drive meaningful change at Cliffs, bring true accountability to the Company’s leadership, and restore shareholder value.”

Last week, Cliff's sent a letter to shareholders urging them to vote against these Casablanca nominees saying "if elected Casablanca would take over the majority of the board enabling the company to enact what Cliffs believes would be a value–destructive plan."

Cliffs said the plan would include the replacement of Cliff's CEO, Gary Halverson.

Cliffs plays a significant role in mining on the Iron Range and the Casablanca control could mean several changes at Hibbing Taconite, United Taconite and North Shore Mining.

"These are all companies that could see some changes, certainly in leadership," said Iron Range Blogger Aaron Brown. "Who knows what other kinds of cost cutting measures will affect the people who live and work here in Minnesota and Michigan where Iron Mining has gone on for 100 plus years."

Cliff's released the following statement on the vote:

“We look forward to receiving the final results of today’s vote, and the Board and management team remain deeply committed to continuing to create long-term value for all of our shareholders. We appreciate the support of the Cliffs shareholders who supported the Company’s slate and the hard work everyday by Cliffs’ more than 6,000 employees.”

Cliff's Officials say they are waiting for the preliminary vote to say anything more about the take over. The official count should be back from the Inspector of Election in three business days.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.
kanderson@kbjr.com