Gold Fields said Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith is stepping down after the South African company’s failed attempt to take over Canadian miner Yamana Gold.
Griffith, 57, who was appointed CEO in April 2021, is leaving December 31 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, the Johannesburg-based bullion producer said in a statement Tuesday.
“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, 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 and Pan American Silver, 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.
The Yamana proposal faced opposition from some Gold Fields investors, including Van Eck Associates and Redwheel, who balked at the premium and the dilution they would have had to accept to their stakes.
Gold Fields shares, which plunged 21% when the bid was announced in May, have since recovered to pre-offer levels.
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 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.
Preece has been with the company for six years and is “well-placed to lead Gold Fields,” it said.