Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Carrabba to retire; Brlas out as exec VP – by Mark Dodosh (Cleveland Business – July 10, 2013)

Big changes are coming to the executive suite at Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF), which over the last 12 months has seen its stock lose nearly two-thirds of its value and has run into problems with a big investment in Canada.

The Cleveland-based producer of iron ore and metallurgical coal said Joseph Carrabba has informed the Cliffs board of his plans to retire as president and chief executive officer by Dec. 31.

In addition, Cliffs said Laurie Brlas, its executive vice president and president of global operations, has retired and is leaving the company, effective immediately. The company did not give a reason for her sudden departure.

Cliffs said James Kirsch, who currently serves on the board as lead director, has been elected non-executive chairman of the board, effectively immediately, replacing Mr. Carrabba as chairman.

Mr. Carrabba will continue to serve as president and CEO and a director until a successor has been elected, after which point he also will step down from the board.

Cliffs said its board has retained the executive search firm of Heidrick & Struggles to help identify candidates to lead the company. To facilitate the transition, Cliffs said, it has formed an Office of the Chairman, led by Mr. Kirsch.

In commenting on his pending exit, Mr. Carrabba said in a news release, “It has been a privilege to lead this great company over the last eight years. I am proud of the global operational footprint we have established and believe now is the right time to begin this leadership transition.”

Mr. Carrabba added, “We thank Laurie for her service over the past seven years as chief financial officer and most recently as executive vice president and president, global operations. We wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Mr. Kirsch said Cliffs is “fortunate to have a strong executive team in place with a deep bench of leadership talent to aid in a seamless transition.”

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