UPDATE 1-Eramet board backs CEO for new term after shareholder tussle

(Adds background, comments from spokeswoman)

PARIS, March 30 (Reuters) - Eramet SA’s board on Tuesday backed a new term for Chief Executive Christel Bories during which her combined CEO and chairwoman role would be split, the French mining group said, in a compromise after tensions between its top shareholders.

Eramet’s board unanimously agreed to propose to the shareholder meeting in May that Bories be renewed for a second four-year term, it said in a statement.

Her current combined role of CEO and chair would be separated before the end of her next term, it said, without giving precise timing or further details.

An Eramet spokeswoman added that the governance changes would occur “over the longer term”.

Bories’ future had been cast into doubt when it emerged this month that the company’s largest shareholder, the Duval family, had written to state shareholding body APE, Eramet’s second-largest shareholder, to suggest replacing her.

APE, which is tied to the Duvals in a shareholder pact, rejected the idea. Like investors and staff, it supports Bories’ record in shifting Eramet towards minerals for electric vehicles and reviewing struggling activities including alloys maker Aubert & Duval (A&D).

Sources have said the Duvals are notably unhappy with Bories’ handling of A&D, the family’s historic business, at which the CEO led an audit into quality control before putting the business up for sale following an aviation slump during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a rare statement, the Duvals said this month that they supported management strategy, including steps to find a buyer for A&D, and it was normal to review governance at the end of a mandate.

Eramet’s board also nominated Francois Corbin, already an independent director, to a new role of lead director.

The role of Corbin, an executive at French tyre maker Michelin and like Bories a past manager at erstwhile French aluminium group Pechiney, would be to support the functioning of the board and was not specifically linked to governance issues, the spokeswoman added. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz Editing by Alexandra Hudson and David Gregorio)