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(Reuters) - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (CLF.N) said on Tuesday it expects at least two nominees proposed by activist investor Casablanca Capital will be appointed to the mining company's board at its annual meeting set for July 29.
Cliffs said that based on discussions with various shareholders, its board believes it is in shareholders best interests for a slate of nine directors to be nominated for its 11-person board.
"As a result ... we believe that at least two of Casablanca's proposed nominees will be elected to the Cliffs board, assuming that Casablanca continues its proxy contest," Cliffs said in a press release released along with its proxy statement. It does not endorse the election of any of Casablanca's nominees, Cliffs said.
Casablanca, a New York-based hedge fund, declined to comment.
A source familiar with the hedge fund's thinking said Casablanca would continue its proxy contest against Cliffs and would release its own proxy statement soon.
Casablanca launched a proxy contest in March for Cliffs, a Cleveland-based iron ore and coal producer whose share price fell by nearly a third last year. Casablanca, which owns around 5.2 percent of Cliffs, wants to replace the company's chief executive and a majority of its board, and split off its international operations from its Great Lakes-based operations.
Cliffs' nine director nominees are: Chief Executive Officer Gary Halverson, and directors Barry Eldridge, Mark Gaumond, Susan Green, Janice Henry, Stephen Johnson, James Kirsch, Richard Riederer and Timothy Sullivan. The company said it did not currently intend to nominate incumbent directors Susan Cunningham and Andres Gluski for re-election.
Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio, Bernard Orr and Tom Brown