Three Gold Fields execs announce plans to quit firm ahead of critical Yamana merger vote

THREE members of Gold Fields’ executive committee, including the company’s head of strategy have resigned from the company.

Sven Lunsche, spokesman for Gold Fields, confirmed the resignations of Brett Mattison, executive vice president of strategy, planning and corporate development, Taryn Leishman, executive vice president: group head of legal and compliance, and Avishkar Nagaser, executive vice president: Investor relations and corporate affairs.

A circular, detailing Gold Fields’ proposed Yamana takeover and planned for distribution imminently, would confirm the resignations, said Lunsche. “The optics obviously don’t look great ahead of the merger, but there separate and personal reasons for each resignation,” he said.

All three have played a critical part in driving the Yamana deal which, when announced on May 31 proved unpopular, sending shares in Gold Fields into a tailspin.

Since then, however, the company’s shares have regained ground amid a general improved appreciation of the deal’s merits, said Gold Fields CEO Chris Griffith.

Said Lunsche of the departing executives: “All three are committed to completing the Yamana transaction and to supporting the first three to four months of the companies’ integration before embarking on the next phase of their careers”.

“Their resignations are for personal reasons having been with the company for many years and with Gold Fields reaching an inflection point with the acquisition of Yamana Gold.”

Critically, the executives have agreed to stay at Gold Fields until the end of March, said Lunsche.

This will provide Gold Fields with about 100 days to bed down the merger assuming shareholders approve it. Yamana shareholders are due to vote on the deal on November 21 with Gold Fields’ shareholders meeting the following day.

“It will remain business as usual for the next five and a half months, with the team continuing in their roles while we progress the transaction and continue with our core business,” said Lunsche.

He said if shareholders approved the merger, management of the combined group will continue to be led by Griffith but the firm’s executive committee would include a number of Yamana employees.

“The Gold Fields board and its nomination and governance committee are currently engaged in a process of exploratory discussions within and outside Gold Fields aimed at achieving this result, and Gold Fields will release an update on this process prior to the Yamana Meeting,” Gold Fields said in a statement.