July 17, 2014 / 3:20 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Two proxy firms give boost to activist slate at miner Cliffs

(Adds details on advisory firms’ recommendations)

July 17 (Reuters) - Casablanca Capital LP said two independent proxy advisory firms have recommended shareholders of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc vote in favor of the hedge fund’s bid to replace some of the members of the miner’s board of directors.

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co have issued strong recommendations in support of Casablanca’s campaign for board changes, the New York-based hedge fund said in a statement late on Wednesday.

ISS is the largest proxy advisor for institutional investors.

On Thursday, Cliffs said that Egan-Jones Proxy Services, a smaller independent proxy advisory firm, had recommended that shareholders vote for all of Cliffs’ director nominees.

Cliffs, a Cleveland-based iron ore and metallurgical coal producer, is locked in a proxy battle with Casablanca, which owns 5.2 percent of Cliffs’ stock and accuses the company of destroying shareholder value.

Casablanca wants to replace Cliffs’ chief executive officer with its own nominee and six of the 11 board members, a majority, with its candidates.

Cliffs said in a statement that ISS and Glass Lewis were only recommending four of Casablanca’s six nominees. Reuters was not immediately able to obtain a copy of the proxy firms’ reports.

Since shareholders can only vote for one side’s slate, and Casablanca could vote its entire stake for the other two nominees, Cliffs said Casablanca is likely to be able to elect a majority to the board if shareholders follow the ISS and Glass Lewis recommendations.

Cliffs offered Casablanca a third of the seats on its board in July in an attempt to settle what it described as a “costly and distracting” proxy contest.

Cliffs shareholders are set to vote on board appointments at the company’s annual meeting on July 29. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore and Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Paul Simao)

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