Iamgold faces scathing shareholder backlash

A bitter public spat erupted between Canadian miner Iamgold and a 5.2% shareholder – the US-based RCF Management – over the leadership of the company. The clash followed the departure from Iamgold of both the CEO and chairman in the past few weeks. 

Nathan Richardson
Iamgold faces scathing shareholder backlash


RCF said on February 1 that it will be nominating "a slate of at least three" candidates who would provide the mining, operational, and governance experience that the board "desperately needs". 

The nominees included Maryse Belanger, David S Smith and Lawrence P Haber. 

"We have lost all faith in the current board during the past two weeks of our engagement. Our attempts to reach a co-operative framework have been met with a pattern of disingenuous interactions," RCF said. 

"We no longer trust the current board to make any material decisions on Iamgold's future leadership that reflect the best interests of its shareholders," it added. 

Iamgold responded on February 2 with a statement to shareholders that said that while Belanger and Smith had been deemed acceptable nominees, Haber had not. And the miner described RCF as having overreaching demands "that would result in a five percent shareholder taking de facto control of the company". 

"Iamgold firmly rejects RCF's revisionist narrative regarding its engagement with the company and the quality of its board and management team," Iamgold said. 

The company's president and CEO Gord Stothart resigned on January 12. This was followed by the retirement of chairman Don Charter on January 30. 

The company also announced a strategic review on January 12 - which is something that has particularly gained the ire of RCF. 

In an open letter, RCF wrote that the strategic review was an "acute concern", as they fear the board and management will "crystalise years of value destruction by selling assets on the cheap due to their inability to fix the operating issues at the company's Rosebel mine and related production ramp-up challenges at the Westwood mine". 

"The board does not have the credibility to attract and retain an appropriate turnaround CEO, nor to manage a strategic review and any consequential asset sales," RCF said. 

Iamgold agreed to refrain from concluding the strategic review and CEO search until after the board has been reconstituted. 

BMO Capital Markets analyst Jackie Przybylowski said the departure of Iamgold's CEO and chairman provides an opportunity for a "strategic reset" that could include straightforward replacements or, potentially, a split up of assets. 

"Cote is likely to be highly valued as an acquisition target - companies including Barrick and Kinross have previously expressed interest in acquisition in Canada, and it's possible that Iamgold's Essakane and Rosebel assets could be valued more highly if held by companies with regional synergies," Przybylowski said. 

On February 2, Iamgold traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$3.18/share, which is down 1% day-on-day. The company had a market capitalisation of C$1,517 million. 

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