Cliffs criticizes activist investor Casablanca

The Associated PressJuly 14, 2014 

— Cliffs Natural Resources hit back at activist investor Casablanca Capital on Monday, saying the firm is looking to strip the company for parts and sell when prices are at a low point.

In a letter to shareholders, Cliffs urged investors to support its candidates for the board of directors. It said Casablanca wants to sell some of its assets for far less than they are worth, and that the timing is poor. It also said Casablanca's nominees don't have enough experience with the mining industry.

"We believe that Casablanca has a one-dimensional, short-term plan to conduct a fire-sale of Cliffs' assets in an industry-wide cyclical downturn," the company said. Its annual meeting is scheduled for July 29.

Casablanca Capital LP owns about 5.2 percent of Cliffs' stock, and it has pushed the Cleveland company to cut costs and spin off some of its international assets. It has nominated six candidates for spots on Cliffs' board of directors. If all of those candidates are elected it will have majority control of the board.

Cliffs has twice tried to end the proxy struggle by offering Casablanca some representation on its board, but Casablanca says larger changes are needed.

Shares of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. lost 3 cents to $14.70 in morning trading Monday after falling as low as $14.56 earlier in the session. The stock has declined 43.8 percent in 2014.

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