(Bloomberg) -- Gold Fields Ltd. said Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith is stepping down after the South African company’s failed attempt to take over Canadian miner Yamana Gold Inc.
Griffith, 57, who was appointed CEO in April last year, is leaving at the end of the month after the company’s bid to buy Yamana was scuppered by two rivals, denting a plan to expand in the Americas. Martin Preece, 54, who runs Gold Fields’ South Deep mine, becomes interim CEO at the bullion producer.
“The Yamana setback should not be allowed to impede the company’s strategy,” Griffith said in a statement. “So I felt that I should take responsibility and allow the company to move forward under new leadership unencumbered by the Yamana transaction.”
A former CEO of Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Griffith took over from Nick Holland, who retired after 13 years. Griffith’s plan to acquire Yamana floundered after the target last month backed a rival $4.8 billion cash-and-stock joint offer from Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. and Pan American Silver Corp., ditching the agreement it had struck with Gold Fields in May. The South African company had offered an all-share deal at $7 billion and a 34% premium.
Read: Gold Fields Sees Tide Turn on Yamana Deal After Stock Rout
The Yamana proposal faced opposition from some Gold Fields investors, including Van Eck Associates Corp. and Redwheel who balked at the premium and the dilution they would have had to accept to their stakes. Gold Fields shares have rebounded from a 21% slump when the Yamana bid was announced in May.
Griffith said in Tuesday’s statement that the board agreed that a strategy of growing the value and quality of its portfolio was the right one for Gold Fields.
“We were all disappointed that the Yamana deal did not go through, as we felt it was a compelling deal which would have created a strong company and created value for all our shareholders,” said Yunus Suleman, Gold Fields’ chairman. Griffith last month told the board he wanted to take responsibility for the Yamana deal failure and his departure was mutually agreed, Suleman said to reporters.
“He felt responsible for it and he decided that he should depart from the company,” Suleman said on a conference call. “It was a compelling deal and we all take responsibility for where it landed, but in this case, the personal responsibility of the CEO, we need to respect.”
Griffith pursued deals to expand the company’s presence in the Americas, where it owns assets in Peru and Chile. Gold Fields has also built its presence in Ghana and Australia, diversifying from South Africa where producers are struggling with the challenges of extracting gold from the world’s deepest mines.
Gold Fields’ strategy isn’t changing because of Griffith’s departure, Suleman said. The miner’s shares fell 4.2% by 11:27 a.m. in Johannesburg.
Preece has been with the company for six years and is “well-placed to lead Gold Fields,” it said. It may take “a bit longer” to secure a permanent replacement after the last search for a CEO took between nine and 12 months, Suleman said.
Read: Gold Fields Ends Takeover Deal With Yamana Amid Rival Offer
(Updates with comment from Gold Fields chairman in seventh paragraph.)
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