NEW YORK Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. has appointed Gary Halverson chief executive officer, effective immediately, it said in a statement late Feb. 13.
The move came on the heels of activist hedge fund Casablanca Capital LP announcing Feb. 12 that it was backing Lourenco Goncalves, former chief executive officer at Metals USA Holdings Corp., to become Cliffs chief executive officer. The New York-based fund, which owns a 5.2-percent stake in Cliffs, delivered a letter to Cliffs declaring its intention to nominate a majority of directors for election to Cliffs board of directors (amm.com, Feb. 12).
Goncalves, a 30-year veteran of the metals and mining industry, told AMM after the Casablanca announcement that he aimed to tackle a "serious cost-cutting effort" at the company.
Halverson had been the Cleveland-based iron ore and coal producers president and chief operating officer since the retirement of Joseph Carrabba as president and chief executive officer (amm.com, Oct. 25).
Cliffs had said Feb. 12 that Casablancas overall proposal failed to provide a "sustainable long-term value-enhancing alternative," adding that Cliffs board of directors and management team regularly evaluate the companys strategic options and previously evaluated the key elements of Casablancas overall proposal.
"We are confident that Gary is the right candidate to lead Cliffs given his proven experience with international and long-term mining operations and understanding of the global commodities industry," Cliffs chairman James Kirsch said in a statement. "Since joining Cliffs, Gary has executed a number of key strategic initiatives to strengthen the company and enhance value for all Cliffs shareholders."
It added that its board of directors and management team welcome open communications with all of its shareholders and value their input toward the collective goal and enhancing shareholder value.
"The companys focus has been ... on reducing costs, strengthening its balance sheet with cash flow from operations, taking a disciplined approach to capital spending and evaluating the strategic fit and value creation potential of all the companys assets," it added.