Departing Gold Fields CEO felt responsible for failed Yamana deal
JOHANNESBURG — Outgoing Gold Fields Ltd CEO Chris Griffith decided to step down as he felt responsible for the South African miner’s failed bid to acquire Canada’s Yamana Gold, the company’s chairman said on Tuesday.
Griffith will leave his role effective Dec. 31, a month after the South African gold miner’s planned acquisition fell through, the company said. Gold Fields shares were down 3% by 0900 GMT.
“As CEO, Chris felt that he should take responsibility and allow the company to move forward under new leadership, unencumbered by the Yamana transaction,” Gold Fields Chairman Yunus Suleman told reporters on Tuesday.
Reuters could not immediately reach Griffith for a comment.
The Gold Fields board had been fully behind the attempt to acquire Yamana and had also unanimously agreed to avoid a bidding war for the Canadian miner, Suleman added.
Two top Gold Fields shareholders, Red Wheel Capital and VanEck, had publicly opposed the deal, which was scuppered last month when Yamana backed a rival $4.8 billion takeover bid from Agnico Eagle and Pan American Silver Corp.
Martin Preece, executive vice president of Gold Fields South Africa, has been appointed as interim CEO, and Suleman said it could take up to 12 months to appoint a permanent CEO.
Preece will join the company’s board of directors on Jan. 1 and has its full support, Gold Fields said. Griffith, who joined Gold Fields in April 2021, will also step down from the board.
“We thank Chris for the commitment and dedication he showed as CEO of Gold Fields, especially during the Yamana transaction,” Suleman said.
Gold Fields shares, which plunged 20% on May 31 when the company announced its acquisition plans, have since bounced back and are currently up around 5% since the start of this year. (Reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Nelson Banya; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Helen Reid and Mark Potter)
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