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Cliffs Says CEO Carrabba to Retire by Year-End

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the largest U.S. iron-ore producer, said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Carrabba will retire by the end of the year.

Laurie Brlas, president of global operations and the company’s former chief financial officer, has retired and will leave immediately, Cliffs said in a statement today. James Kirsch, a Cliffs director, was appointed non-executive chairman. The board retained executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. to help find a CEO.

In the past nine months, Cleveland-based Cliffs idled production at mines in Michigan and Minnesota, cut its dividend by 76 percent and sold equity to raise $995 million after the price of iron ore slumped. The company also announced in November it would postpone the expansion of its Bloom Lake mine in Canada. The shares have dropped 58 percent in 2013.

Carrabba, who joined Cliffs in 2005 as chief operating officer and became CEO in 2006, expanded the company globally by buying assets. Under his leadership, the company bought Thompson Consolidated Iron Mines Ltd. for C$4.4 billion ($4.2 billion) including debt in 2011, adding iron-ore assets in Canada. Cliffs wrote down the value of the Thompson assets by $1 billion in the fourth quarter.

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