* CEO Peter Jones to retire Dec. 31
* President and COO Michael Winship steps down now
* Shares drop 4.6 percent (Adds CEO, analyst comments, background)
By Cameron French
TORONTO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - HudBay Minerals (HBM.TO) said on Thursday that recently-appointed CEO Peter Jones will retire at the end of the year, and company president Michael Winship will leave immediately.
The company’s shares fell on the news, finishing the session down nearly 5 percent.
Jones’ announced departure comes just eight months after he began his second stint as chief executive after a heated proxy battle sparked by the company’s ultimately failed attempt to take over Lundin Mining (LUN.TO).
“This is a shock, I would say. A bit of a disappointment,” said John Hughes, a mining analyst a Desjardins Securities.
Reached on his cell phone, Jones said his retirement did not indicate a strategic shift for the company.
“It’s a mutual decision,” Jones said, when asked whether the decision to retire was his or if he was leaving at the behest of the board. He will remain on the board, while Winship will pursue other opportunities.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for me to retire. I‘m approaching 63 years old. After discussions with the board, we both felt that now was an opportune time. I think we’re parting on good terms,” Jones said.
He said the timing of Winship’s departure was a coincidence. “I think that’s related to other issues, nothing to do with my departure,” he said.
Jones previously served as HudBay CEO from 2004 to early 2008, when the board pushed him out for failing to make good on promises to seek acquisitions.
He returned in March as part of a slate put forward by HudBay shareholder SRM global Master Fund and said he would both seek acquisitions and drive organic growth.
Since then, the company has not announced any large deals, although it has pushed ahead on developing its Lalor zinc-gold project, which it discovered in 2007.
The successes at Lalor, where the company recently hit high-grade copper and gold drill intercepts, have helped drive HudBay shares up by more than 90 percent since mid-September.
HudBay said its board has appointed independent director Warren Holmes, as executive vice-chairman to ease a transition to a new CEO and has also started the search for a new CEO.
Holmes will assume the position of acting CEO on Jan. 1, pending the hiring of a new chief executive.
HudBay shares fell 76 Canadian cents to C$15.74 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1=$1.06 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Janet Guttsman)