March 6 (Reuters) - Activist investor Casablanca Capital LP said on Thursday it sent a letter to Cliffs Natural Resources Inc nominating six directors for election to the company’s board at its annual meeting in May, setting in motion a proxy battle for the iron ore producer.
The director slate includes Casablanca Chief Executive Officer Douglas Taylor as well as Lourenco Goncalves, former CEO of Metals USA. The New York-based fund last month named Goncalves as its preferred candidate for Cliffs’ CEO.
Casablanca, which owns about 5.2 percent of Cliffs, says the company’s expansion strategy has failed and that it has lost 80 percent of its market value while overseen by a majority of the current 11-member board.
The annual meeting is scheduled for May 13.
Other directors on the slate are: Rip Fisher, a former head of mining and Canadian corporate finance and investment banking at Goldman Sachs; Patrice Merrin, a director of Stillwater Mining; Joseph Rutkowski, former vice president of business development at Nucor Corp, and Gabriel Stoliar, managing partner of Studio Investimentos, an asset management firm.